SAN LUIS OBISPO: Task Force To Consider County Pesticide Issues
The county Health Commission yesterday appointed three of its own members to "work with various agencies and groups to identify health concerns posed by the use of pesticides." The San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune reports that the task force is a result of a special hearing convened by the commission last month "after farm workers and environmental organizations identified [pesticides] as a problem." The three newly appointed commission members will work with farm workers, growers, the Farm Bureau, the county agriculture commissioner, the health agency and the county's Environmental Center on the pesticide issue and issue a final report by June. The Telegram-Tribune notes that "[a]dvocates on both sides of the issue praised the commission for appointing the task force." Joy Fitzhugh of the state Farm Bureau noted the need for "more information and education," saying, "It's pointing us in the right direction."
Protecting The Hands That Feed
The Telegram-Tribune reports that "[o]utreach to the farm worker community is one of the main problems that needs to be addressed." Already, the agriculture commissioner's office is addressing the problem through "several initiatives." Commission staff are using Spanish-language radio and brochures to communicate pesticide safety messages, and "farm worker access issues" are gaining more attention during pesticide inspections. The staff is also "developing a Spanish-language farm worker complaint line." Health Commissioner Gloria Ramirez said farm workers "have many concerns about pesticides but are afraid to talk about them for fear of reprisals from growers." The task force will also consider "pesticide drift from farms to residential communities, pesticide use in schools and educating doctors about pesticide exposure diagnosis" (Sneed, 3/10).