Cal EPA and all of us should ask what is the standard of protection from dangerous pesticides we would expect for our family and our children?
Chlorpyrifos was banned for home use in 2000 because the pesticide is known to cause permanent brain damage in children. Yet the same pesticide is still applied in large quantities in California’s fields and orchards.
Pesticides such as chlorpyrifos are everywhere in the fields where farm workers labor. They often drift in the air from the fields where they are applied. Farm worker children and other kids in rural communities are exposed when they play outside or when they hug their parents after they come home from fields that are sprayed.
Why shouldn’t the standard of protection the government used to protect most children by banning chlorpyrifos for home use in 2000 also be applied to the children of farm workers who are still being exposed?
Cesar Chavez’s last, and longest, public fast of 36 days in 1988 was over the pesticide poisoning of farm workers and their children. In his first major speech after that fast, on which he and I worked, Cesar asked, “What is the worth of a man or a woman? What is the worth of a farm worker? How do you measure the value of a life?”
Are the lives of farm worker children any less valuable than the lives of other children?
Should protecting farm worker children be as important as protecting the children for whom the government acted in 2000 when it banned chlorpyrifos in people’s homes?