Protecting People From Pesticides
They told Jim Cochran no one cared about healthy food and healthy workers. He decided to prove them wrong. This is his story:
Former farmworker Amelia Moran Ceja shows that stewarding the land and your workers can be good for business:
Our Food, Toxic Fields
Farmworkers represent the backbone of our agricultural economy and their work is some of the most physically demanding labor in any economic sector. They are also among the least protected from hazards on the job and have one of the highest rates of chemical exposures among all U.S. workers. Off the job, they often live in or near treated fields, where harmful pesticides can drift into their homes and harm their children.
Among farmworkers, 10,000–20,000 pesticide poisonings occur every year. Beyond the acute poisonings, there are long-term, chronic health effects such as cancer, Parkinsons’ Disease, asthma, birth defects, and neurological harms, including developmental delays and learning disabilities.
Children of farmworkers are particularly at risk of developmental harms. Pesticides cling to workers' skin and clothing long after they return home, exposing whole families to some of the most toxic chemicals in the country.
Protections Must Be Strengthened
A healthy, safe, and fair food system would protect us all and safeguard the health and economic needs of farmworkers, farmers, rural communities, and consumers. Shifting away from reliance on hazardous pesticides is a key step toward this goal. But as long as harmful pesticides are in use, farmworkers need better protections in the field.
Farmworkers and Rural Families Under Attack
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strengthened pesticide safeguards for farmworkers. Around the same time, the agency started the process of banning chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely-used pesticides linked with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, and loss of working memory. But from day one, the Trump administration brushed aside all improvement. First it refused to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that’s already been banned from home use. The Trump administration also signaled it will gut other federal pesticide rules, including one that prevents children from working with the most toxic pesticides.
Pounds of pesticides applied to crops annually in the U.S., resulting in 10,000–20,000 pesticide poisonings among farmworkers each year.