.Letter to the Editor: Don’t Hide Pesticides

Re: “Pesticide Use in California Remains at Near-Record High” (goodtimes.sc, 2/24):

During the pandemic, it’s vitally important to receive accurate, scientific and transparent information from local government. Yet in agricultural communities in Santa Cruz County, the County Agricultural Commission (CAC) refuses to give advance notice of the application of hazardous pesticides so that farmworkers, schools, seniors—and, in fact, all residents—can take precautions as they have during hazardous air quality conditions caused by wildfires. 

Every grower who wants to apply a hazardous pesticide, such as carcinogenic, drift-prone Telone gas—used to kill soil microbes—must complete a Notice of Intent (NOI) and file it with the Commission in advance. The CAC argues that posting NOIs in on their website advance would tax their resources, that people would not be able to interpret the simple four-page forms and that it is unnecessary because “California already has the most stringent pesticide laws in the country.”

The on-the-ground reality is that pesticide drift is a chronic public health hazard and that the public has a right to know before hazardous chemicals are applied. It is a myth that pesticide drift is under control. With 1,410,436 pounds of pesticides applied in Santa Cruz County in 2017, how could spray drift not have affected our communities? For far too long, CACs have promoted conventional chemical ag at the expense of public health.

Woody Rehanek | Watsonville

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