USDA scientists' research about bee-killing pesticides compromised
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Environmentalists, beekeepers, farmworkers, farmers, fisheries, and food safety advocates sent a letter to the USDA Inspector General and the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health today, urging an investigation into recent reports that USDA scientists are being harassed and their research is being censored or suppressed, especially research related to neonicotinoid insecticides -- a leading driver of bee declines globally. The White House Task Force on
Pollinator Health, co-chaired by the USDA, is expected to release a plan for bee protection in the near future. The more than 25 groups are concerned that the plan will lack meaningful protections for pollinators if the USDA's research has been compromised.
In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed a citizen petition requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopt new policies that would provide stronger protections for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals.
"It is unconscionable for USDA to cover up or politicize any research. The science needs to speak for itself. Beekeepers in Maryland and across the country need a comprehensive plan to address pesticide use, habitat loss, and the other issues facing bees and other pollinators. Otherwise, they won't survive in this toxic environment, and that will put us all in a food desert. It is critical that USDA serve beekeepers and the American public, not just the pesticide industry," said Roger Williams, president of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association."How can the American public expect USDA to develop a federal strategy that will protect bees instead of pesticide industry profits if it is harassing and suppressing its own scientists for conducting research that runs counter to industry claims?" said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "If USDA wants to employ a kill-the-messenger approach, it will only delay critical action to address the bee crisis that threatens our nation's food supply.""If we cannot trust the scientific integrity of our scientists to protect bees, how can farmworkers be assured that their health and safety are not in jeopardy from a scientific community that is beholden to the interests of corporations and not to the protection of their own health and safety?" said Jeannie Economos, pesticide safety and environmental health project coordinator with Farmworker Association of Florida. "The issue goes beyond only protecting bees, but to protecting the public health, especially the most vulnerable, as well.""The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance cares deeply that USDA science be untainted, because poorly studied and regulated pesticides ultimately end up in the ocean where they continue their toxic journey damaging marine food chains and habitat that support our wild fisheries, fishing communities and seafood production," said Boyce Thorne Miller, science and policy advisor with The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. "Censorship and harassment poison good science and good policy," said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "There's no question that neonicotinoids are killing bees and it's long past time for our government to take action. The European Union has already banned neonicotinoids. The reports that USDA is harassing and suppressing its scientists for doing their jobs instead of using their findings to protect our pollinators are extremely disturbing."The White House Task Force on Pollinator Health was established as part of a Presidential Memorandum, issued by President Obama in June 2014, which called for a federal strategy to protect pollinators and called on the EPA to assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days. Last April, Friends of the Earth released a report, "Follow the Honey: 7 ways pesticide companies are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits," which documents the deceptive tactics used by agrochemical companies including Germany-based Bayer (DE: BAYN), Switzerland-based Syngenta (NYSE: SYT) and U.S.-based Monsanto (NYSE: MON), to deflect blame from their products' contributions to bee declines and delay regulatory action on neonicotinoid pesticides.
The letter sent by environmentalists, beekeepers, farmworkers, farmer and food safety advocates to the USDA Inspector General and the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, along with a complete list of signatories, can be found here.
The Farmworker Association of Florida was selected as a recipient of the Florida Blue Foundation's Sapphire Award. On April 23, FWAF's Board Chair, Isidoro Quezada, was presented with a beautiful hand-blown glass trophy, along with an award of $100,000 in recognition of the work of FWAF's Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project. The project was recognized for the accomplishments in making workplaces safer and reducing exposure to pesticides through education, regulatory, and policy change work to improve farmworker protections. In addition, Margarita Romo, Executive Director of Farmworkers Self-Help, of Dade City, a long-time ally of FWAF, was awarded a Sapphire Award in the individual category, and awarded $50,000 for her long commitment to improving the health of farmworkers.
In the picture, FWAF Board Chair accepts the Sapphire Award, in the program category, from Patrick Geraghty, CEO of Florida Blue.
Entitled Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting Health, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, the event was cohosted by the Farmworker Association of Florida, Beyond Pesticides, and Florida A&M School of Law. The Forum provided Farmworker Association staff with an incredible opportunity to learn about the current science and policy information as well as to discuss and compare agricultural regulations and their impacts on farmworkers on the local, state, and national levels. The conference included a Toxic Tour in the Apopka area--led by former Lake Apopka farmworker and community organizer Linda Lee and farmworker and community organizer Miguel Zelaya -- which introduced the participants to the history and legacy of industrial vegetable farming in Central Florida.
The forum focused on agricultural justice, including the impact of pesticide use on human health and the environment, particularly as it relates to farmworker protections and organic agriculture. Biodiversity, pollinator protection, and other relevant issues for Central Florida, including West Nile virus, pesticides in schools and hospitals, and genetic engineering were also discussed. Two giants in the world of precedent-breaking research on the effects of pesticides on reproductive rates of alligators and feminization of frogs, Dr. Louis Guillette and Dr. Tyrone Hayes shared their visions that significant scientific research must lead committed scientists to advocacy outside the lab to protect wildlife, human health and our entire planet.
The weekend brought together scientists, policy makers, public health and environmental advocates, community organizers, and farmworkers to interact and strategize on solutions that are protective of farmworker health and the environment. The collective knowledge, energy, dedication and commitment at the Forum was both inspirational and empowering.
Also, during the forum FWAF General Coordinator, Tirso Moreno, was honored to receive the Dragonfly Award from Beyond Pesticides Executive Director, Jay Feldman.
Publicado el Martes, 31 Marzo 2015 23:17
Comunicado La Vía Campesina
(Harare, 30 de Marzo de 2015) La Vía Campesina Internacional definió el 17 de Abril como - el Día Internacional de las Luchas Campesinas - para visibilizar y denunciar la criminalización de la protesta, persecución y violencia que enfrenta cotidianamente el campesinado a causa de la implementación del modelo neoliberal y del agronegocio en el campo. Para el Movimiento Campesino Internacional es urgente agilizar la aprobación de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Campesinos y otras personas que trabajan en zonas rurales como una herramienta de lucha para garantizar una vida digna en el campo.
This year’s conference will focus on agricultural justice, including the impact of pesticide use on human health and the environment, particularly as it relates to farmworker protections and organic agriculture. Biodiversity, pollinator protection, and other relevant issues for central Florida, including West Nile virus, pesticides in schools and hospitals, and genetic engineering will also be covered. Register here
Cesar Chavez fasted for 36 days in 1988 to bring awareness to the health impacts on farmworkers from exposure to toxic chemical pesticides. Twenty-seven years later, the struggle for pesticide health and safety of farmworkers continues, even as increasing scientific studies link pesticide exposure to a host of health and environmental problems.
In honor and commemoration of Cesar Chavez’s birthday on March 31, a coalition of organizations – including the Farmworker Association of Florida - delivered a 635 page petition with over 21, 000 signatures to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding that the agency not delay any longer in issuing a stronger Worker Protection Standard to enact stronger regulations to better protect farmworkers from occupational exposure to pesticides.
Thanks to our allies at Pesticide Action Network for hosting the online petition and compiling all the petition signatures, and thanks to our collaborators at Farmworker Justice, Earthjustice, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), for meeting with EPA officials and hand delivering all 635 printed pages of the petition to the EPA and for representing the other organizations in the coalition who could not be in D.C. in person.
The official public comment period on the proposed WPS closed on August 18, 2014. The petition delivered yesterday demands that EPA issue the new regulations no later than August 18th of this year. One year is enough! Twenty-seven years is too long! Every day that the EPA delays in issuing stronger WPS protections, farmworkers’ health and lives are put at risk, just so that the rest of us can have a plentiful supply of food to eat. Protecting farmworkers is the right thing to do. Yesterday, the EPA heard that message loud and clear!
Thanks to everyone who signed the petition!
Foto: From left to right, Hector Sanchez (LCLAA, NHLA), Bruce Goldstein (Farmworker Justice), Andrea Delgado (EarthJustice), Jorge Ramos (LCLAA), and Chelly Richards (Farmworker Justice)
National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) is a week of action for students, supporters, and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues on school campuses, in churches, in organizations, and in communities all around the country. In 2015 we celebrate the 16th Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week to raise awareness about farmworker conditions, to take action in support of better living and working conditions for farmworkers, and to honor their important contributions to us every day!
The Farmworker Association of Florida is one of the sponsors of NFAW Week this year, as in years past. Several events are planned on college campuses and in our communities in Florida, which will culminate in a statewide day of action at the state capital on the birthday of Cesar Chavez – March 31st.
NFAW is an opportunity to raise our voices to demand stronger health and safety protections for farmworkers who risk their health so that we can have food to eat. Farmworkers need to be protected from pesticide exposure and the Environmental Protection Agency is in a position to make a significant difference in the lives of farmworkers in the future. Join us in sending a message to EPA and to others around the country for stronger a Worker Protection Standard.
Join us in tweeting! (Suggested tweets!) Tweet today and all week long.
- 20k poisonings a year! Stand #forfarmworkers. Take action to reduce pesticide poisonings http://ejus.tc/1Ff0sjd
- Who isn't protected from pesticides by OSHA standards? Only #farmworkers. Take action http://ejus.tc/1Ff0sjd
- Stand #forfarmworkers during this Awareness week. Tell #EPA to strengthen worker protections http://ejus.tc/1Ff0sjd
- You may not know their names, but they feed your family. Take action #fofarmworkers http://ejus.tc/1Ff0sjd
- We must protect all children from pesticides, the most at risk? #Farmworkers children http://ejus.tc/1Ff0sjd
Each day during NFAW highlights a specific issue of importance to farmworkers.
Tuesday March 24 | Living Conditions
Wednesday March 25 | Pesticides and Health
Thursday March 26 | Education
Friday March 27 | Community
Saturday March 28 | Living Wages
Sunday March 29 | Rights
Monday March 30 | Solidarity
Tuesday March 31| Family
Farmworkers Feed the World! Protect Farmworkers!
The Agroecology Encuentro in Florida in February was a powerful gathering for social justice and agricultural transformation that brought together diverse people from the Americas with a goal of defining new ways of food production, ensuring worker and community justice, demanding food sovereignty, and implementing ecological protection and restoration. The result of the week-long Encuentro was a declaration of a set of principles and positions that were decided on by consensus of the group. You can read the Declaration of the 1st U.S. Agroecology Encuentro here. (English / Spanish) The energy and the commitment of Encuentro participants and the partner organizations is moving the Encuentro to the next phase, which includes the deep community work around community gardens in four key areas in Florida.
Click the image to see our gallery
It's been almost 20 years since the EPA introduced the Worker Protection Standard--the only regulations that protect farmworkers from pesticides. The new guidelines changed industry practices for the better, but have never adequately protected the health and safety of farmworkers and their families. Sign this petition to the EPA, demand that they protect farmworkers now!
In 2014, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that they would update the WPS to beef up the protections. They released a draft of the proposed update in February, received more than 200,000 public comments and 400 handwritten pleas from farmworkers over the summer and have been stalling ever since.
We propose holding the EPA to a deadline of August 18, 2015--exactly 20 years after the WPS were put in place in 1995--to put these new protections in place. Please sign our friend PAN's letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, because 20 years is too long to go without progress!
Use these sample tweets or create your own:
- "Tell the @EPA @GinaEPA to update the #WPS, because 20 years is too long! #farmworkers #pesticides http://bit.ly/1CDzrEk "
- "Sign @pesticideaction's letter to @GinaEPA so that @EPA updates the #WPS by August 18, 2015: http://bit.ly/1CDzrEk @FWAFL"
- 20 years is too long to go without improving farmworkers' lives, sign @pesticideaction's letter to@EPA: http://bit.ly/1CDzrEk @FWAFL"
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2015 is the beginning of a new year and a time for re-committing ourselves to the struggle for social justice for this country’s hardworking farmworkers. FWAF staff is determined. We will re-double our efforts to work for immigrants’ rights, better wages, decent housing, freedom from sexual harassment, and protection from pesticide exposure for the workers in the fields, groves and nurseries in Florida and in the nation. The farmworker community is our community! We are the farmworkers, and that includes many of our staff, our Board of Directors, the leadership committees, our community leaders, and community members.
Farmworkers form the very basis of the agricultural economy of the U.S. We all depend upon the work they do for our country to function & flourish. These workers deserve equality & dignity – civil rights, immigrants’ rights, worker rights and human rights. This is what we will continue to work for today and throughout 2015. Join us in the cause of “Justicia Para los Campesinos.”
In 2015, we will:
- Continue to fight for Comprehensive Immigration Reform on a national level
- Educate farmworkers on the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability
- Pressure the Environmental Protection Agency for an improved Worker Protection Standard to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure
- Advocate for bilingual pesticide labels for agricultural pesticides
- Seek unpaid wages for farmworker victims of wage theft
- Grow the Agroecology Program and local farmworker run community gardens to begin to transform the food production in local
- Engage in academic research projects with Emory University to increase the scientific knowledge on the occupational health of farmworkers
- Actively participate in coalitions, including the Food Chain Workers Alliance, La Via Campesina, the Rural Coalition and the Domestic Fair Trade Coalition, among others
Apopka advocate wins Wendell Rollason Award for rural health work
ORLANDO, Fla., November 20, 2014 - The Florida Rural Health Association is proud to announce Tirso Moreno, co-founder and general coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, the 2014 winner of the Wendell N. Rollason Achievement Award.
The Wendell Rollason Award was established in 1995 to honor Wendell Rollason, a powerful force in Florida on issues of rural health, migrant farm workers, and education for poor and minority children. In the spirit of Rollason, the award winner is honored for his or her compassion, unselfishness, and commitment in seeking solutions in the delivery of rural health care and quality of life in rural Florida.
Under Moreno’s leadership, the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) has a 31-year history of contributing to the health and well-being of farmworker communities in 15 counties across Central and South Florida.
“With deep commitment to community organizing, popular education, and farmworker leadership development, Tirso has led FWAF to many social, environmental, and economic justice accomplishments,” said Holly Baker, Moreno’s colleague and nominator for the award.
FLORIDA'S FARMWORKERS & FAITH LEADERS DENOUNCE YOHO AND BONDI's SYMBOLIC AND SHAMEFULANTI-IMMIGRANT ACTIONS
Our Lives and our Labor Matters
Gainesville, FL - On Thursday, December 4th, the US House of Representatives passed a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R- FL3) to bar the President from deferring the deportation of undocumented Americans through the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. As if that weren't enough, late Friday the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that the Sunshine State was joining a lawsuit against Obama's executive action on immigration.
Both actions are a symbolic and shameful move to attack the administration's program which would give temporary relief from deportation to nearly 5 million undocumented parents of US citizen children who have been here more than five years. The relief would imply they would get a work permit and thus, a drivers' license, dramatically reducing their chance of being detained and separated from their children. It is estimated that less than 253,000 of over 600,000 undocumented immigrants in Florida who would potentially quality.
Rep. Ted Yoho represents wide agricultural areas of Florida, and in fact, sits on the Agriculture Committee. Agriculture is a $100 billion industry and employs nearly one million Floridians. Rep. Yoho should be well aware of the needs of our agricultural community for regularization of the status of immigrants who work for the farmers, as well as of the suffering of the many U.S. citizen children whose parents have not been able to change their status due to the repeated failures by the US Congress to fix our broken immigration system.
Tirso Moreno, from the Farmworker Association of Florida stated: "This is hypocritical considering that many undocumented Floridians are farmworkers who work from sun to sun doing the backbreaking work that sustains our economy. We feed not only Florida, we feed the nation. We do the hardest work at the lowest pay, and to add insult to injury, Rep. Yoho wants us to fear detention and deportation too? He should know better,
Join host, News Director Rick Spisak
with his guests Jeanne Economos, from Pesticide Awareness Campaign (Click to listen de podcast)
and Our friend from Food Not Bombs the Hunger Striker Dezeray who is non-violently fighting for compassion for the Hungry and Homeless in Fort Lauderdale and across the country.
And our ACA Advocate Athena from Florida Chain, explaining the new registration campaign, and dispelling the rumours that have been circulating by those who have opposed it since it was first proposed.
TUNE IN for our Thanksgiving Special - Food, Pesticide, Hunger and Healthcare - TUNE IN -
and give thanks for all the good people that make these shows possible.
Solidarity & Peace
Rick Spisak, News Director
- Some 7 million undocumented migrants hope for Congress to pass new immigration law
- Wendell Rollason Award to FWAF's General Coordinator, Tirso Moreno
- FWAF Response to the President’s Executive Order Regarding Immigration
- FL: Pesticidas mortales