June 2021
A united call for pesticide notification
Action Alert: Tell the state to fund a safer and more just farming system
Meet Teresa Gomez, our new Ventura County organizer
Backpack air monitoring: CPR teams up with UCD to measure pesticides in the air
Malibu gets around state preemption to ban rodenticides
A united call for pesticide notification
Community members rally across the state; City of Soledad, Greenfield Union School District pass resolutions calling for public notice
Californians in farmworker communities gathered May 27 online as well as in-person, calling on the state and county governments to web-post advance warning of agricultural pesticide use, citing the known health impacts of pesticide exposure and the tendency of pesticides to drift far from where they are applied. Currently, no notice is provided to the public. Knowing in advance about hazardous chemical use near homes and schools would enable residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families from harm.

The statewide event, organized by CPR, marked the birthday of Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring, published almost 60 years ago, exposed the health and environmental harms of DDT and other pesticides that leave a legacy of destruction. The event included a virtual online rally and simultaneous on-the-ground community delegations to County Agricultural Commissioner offices in Bakersfield, Modesto, Salinas, and Tulare. In addition, more than 23,000 people signed a petition calling for public notice.

As a first step toward a comprehensive statewide notification system, CPR is calling for advance online publication of “Notices of Intent” (NOIs), forms which growers must submit to county agricultural commissioners before they are permitted to use pesticides classified as Restricted Materials, those considered to be the most hazardous or drift-prone.

Making NOIs public in advance is a simple, low-cost form of notification that builds on existing notice provided by growers to agricultural commissioners and imposes no new demands on growers. Notification would enable residents to take preventive measures such as closing windows, keeping asthmatic children indoors, or refraining from hanging laundry outside. Publicly available notice would also enable scientists to plan air monitoring for times when exposure is most likely to be measured.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has announced plans to develop a statewide regulation on notification, and the Governor’s revised budget, announced in May, includes $10m for that purpose, outlining a regulatory process that will extend through June 2024. However, NOIs are public documents that can be made public now, without spending years on the regulatory process. Previous efforts by DPR to develop a notification rule in 2016 quickly withered under a blast of opposition from industry, which adamantly opposes any move toward greater transparency.

Meanwhile in the Monterey Bay region, the city of Soledad and Greenfield Union School District were the latest bodies to pass a resolution calling for pesticide notices of intent to be made public in advance, joining the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and the cities of Watsonville and Greenfield. Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales continues to resist the growing demand in his region, telling the Salinas Californian that pesticides were too "complex" for ordinary folks to understand and expressing concern that notification would be "abused" by people challenging use of hazardous chemicals in their neighborhoods.

In Kern County, Agricultural Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser still refuses to provide Notices of Intent to the state as he was ordered to do under the environmental justice law AB 617. "We keep hitting a rock, which is our ag commissioner," community organizer Byanka Santoyo told the Bakersfield Californian. Shafter residents have now begun calling for the state to begin termination proceedings against Fankhauser for misconduct in office. "Fankhauser was ordered by the state to provide this information to us but he refuses to do so. He is not doing his job and the Kern County Board of Supervisors must fire him," said Shafter resident Anabel Marquez in a letter to the Bakersfield Californian.
Action Alert: The State Budget Must Include Funding for More Just & Sustainable Food & Farming
In May, the draft California budget came out. The good news? The proposed budget includes funding for programs that will make our state’s food and farming systems more just and sustainable!

However, we need one final push to ensure this funding makes it over the finish line. 

We know — from countless studies and accounts from frontline communities — that pesticide use across the state is dangerous to farmworkers, rural families, and children. We also know that our policymakers are listening, as multiple priorities we and our partners have been pushing for this legislative session have already been included in the draft budget.

  • $90 million for safer, alternative pest management
  • Incentives to transition farming systems to regenerative and organic practices
  • $10 million for a state-wide pesticide notification system that alerts communities before pesticides are sprayed in their vicinity
  • $130 million for safe, well-maintained farmworker family housing
Thank you.
Meet our new organizer in Ventura County:
Teresa Gomez
We are delighted to welcome our newest organizer Teresa Gomez to the CPR family! Prior to joining CPR core staff in May, Teresa was a farmworker in Ventura County for more than two decades. Since 2018, Teresa has volunteered as a sexual assault and domestic violence counselor for Líderes Campesinas and Voz de la Mujer Indígena, and became involved in pesticide issues through participation in the Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety coalition.

Teresa will lead our community education and organizing efforts in Ventura County. CPR is very fortunate to have Teresa's wealth of local knowledge, connections and experience in the pesticide reform movement.
CPR teams up with UC Davis to study pesticides in the air in the San Joaquin Valley

A new research project stemming from one of the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center's Pilot Projects began field work in May 2021. This project is a collaborative effort between Professor Deborah Bennett, PhD, an exposure scientist at UC Davis, and Californians for Pesticide Reform.  

This community-driven project measures a suite of over 25 pesticides in the air by monitoring local residents' personal exposure throughout the day. Pesticides include organophosphates, pyrethroids, fumigants and a variety of less studied compounds applied in the region. These compounds are either endocrine disruptors that interfere with hormones or potential neurotoxicants that can affect brain function and development.  
Some 36 adults across nine agricultural communities in three San Joaquin Valley counties will participate by going about their normal daily activities. Wearing a backpack with a small pump and two air sampling tubes for three days, they turn on the sampler in the morning before leaving their house and wear the backpack for 12 to 14 hours. UC Davis Professor Thomas Young’s laboratory will then analyze the samples. 

This study will help researchers and local citizens concerned about drift from agricultural fields understand the levels of pesticides in the air. This project is funded by the California Air Resources Board through its AB 617 Community Air Grants program.

"There are just a handful of pesticide air monitors for the whole state of California, so efforts like this partnership with UC Davis can really help us understand what's in the air in agricultural communities in California, where some of the heaviest pesticide use in the world happens," said Jane Sellen, CPR Co-Director.

"There are many homes in Fresno County with only a chain link fence separating them from treated fields," added Nayamin Martinez, Executive Director of Fresno-based Central California Environmental Justice Network. "In this study, community residents will measure what's in their own backyards as they go about their day. Here in the Valley, there's a strong desire to know more about what's in the air we all breathe."
Think only the state can ban pesticides? Think again, says Malibu
The remains of the mountain lion P-76. NPS.

This story originally ran in The Malibu Times (excerpted with permission)

The fight for a total ban on rodenticides (rat poison) within the City of Malibu is now one step closer to reality. Achieving a ban has popular support among residents—particularly since 20-plus years of National Park Service research in the Santa Monica Mountains gives overwhelming proof that rat poison travels up the food chain to kill and sicken our local mountain lions, hawks, owls, bobcats and coyotes.

On Thursday, May 13, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to approve a revised version of a proposed amendment to the Land Use Plan (LUP) section of the certified Malibu Local Coastal Program (LCP) regarding the use of pesticides. This was considered a huge win by many of those involved in the seven-year-long process, particularly Joel and Kian Schulman, founders of the nonprofit Poison Free Malibu.

Restriction of the use of rodenticides is a tricky process, because a 1984 state law preempts local governments like Malibu’s from “prohibiting or in any way attempting to regulate ... pesticides.” However, the code does not limit the authority of other state agencies to enforce other state laws, such as the California Coastal Commission’s enforcement of the California Coastal Act of 1976. The commission is authorized to regulate pesticides as necessary to carry out the Coastal Act. Courts have held that LCPs like Malibu’s are certified by the commission and therefore represent state policy rather than local government.

The decision is not a blanket ban: The commission decided that its enforcement of the Coastal Act, and therefore its ability to regulate pesticide use, was limited to Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHAs), areas near ESHAs and new development near ESHAs that would “have the potential to significantly degrade ESHA or coastal water quality or harm wildlife.” Commissioners therefore rejected Malibu’s proposal to eliminate pesticides throughout the entire city as being too broad.

“This is a complex issue, because the people want rodenticides banned,” said Malibu Interim Planning Director Richard Mollica in a phone interview. “I see this as a start for us and a very good step in the right direction. The important thing is that we got this into the LCP—a state document.”

“This amendment change is a policy change only,” Mollica emphasized, “but it opens the door to allow the city to include conditions regarding the use of pesticides on a property immediately.” 

Coastal commission staff also noted that CA Assembly Bill 1788 went into effect January 1, temporarily prohibiting four kinds of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides throughout the state—at least until the DPR finishes its evaluation. 

One of the 13 people making public comments at last week’s coastal commission meeting was Malibu resident Rebecca Dmytryk, who pointed out that the DPR is largely funded by the pesticide industry—the same industry it is supposed to be regulating, creating a “significant conflict of interest.”

“It’s my understanding they receive the majority of their funding from the registration, sale and use of pesticides,” she said. “How is it ever going to be in their best interest to reduce pesticide use?”

According to the DPR website, the department “is funded by regulatory fees, penalties and a small amount of federal funds ... The largest revenue source is the mill assessment—a fee levied on pesticide sales at the point of first sale into the state.”