California News Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – About 150 farmworkers’ families and their advocates plan to rally tomorrow in front of the California state PEA office in Sacramento. The groups are concerned with the toxicity of pesticides applied near schools, and say they’ve been waiting for the Department of Pesticide Regulation to act after it held community meetings on several proposals last year.
Angel Garcia, a community organizer with El Quinto Sol de America in Tulare County, said kids should be protected from pesticides that are in both the restricted and non-restricted categories.
“The main ‘ask’ at the state level is to create a one-mile buffer zone around schools when children or families, or school-sponsored activity is happening,” he said.
He said current regulations vary from county to county. Some have a quarter of a mile protection zone, but only for certain pesticides. Some have systems to notify schools and parents when spraying will occur, while others do not.
Valerie Gorospe, a community advocate with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, said studies have linked pesticide spraying to serious illness, and it disproportionately affects Latino children.
“There are pesticides that cause cancer, that do neurological damage to developing bodies,” she said. “We’ve seen skin diseases; and asthma is definitely something that a lot of our children, especially in the San Joaquin Valley, deal with on a daily basis.”
Gorospe said the Department of Pesticide Regulation is also considering changing the so-called “banking system” for pesticides so the amount farmers are allowed in a given year can’t be rolled over into the following year.