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City officials and leaders from local environmental groups held a press conference this morning to present their priorities for pesticide reform to the incoming administration for Governor-elect Jerry Brown.

City Councilmember Rob Fong joined a coalition of farm workers’ rights, children’s health, and other environmental groups to promote a plan they call, “Healthy Children and Green Jobs: A Platform for Pesticide Reform.” The group’s plan focuses on creating “green agricultural and pest-management jobs,” while advocating against the use of controversial agricultural pesticides like methyl iodide.

“It is a really important push to get pesticides out of our environment,” said Councilmember Fong, who help start a pilot project to rid the use of pesticides in Fremont Park.  Fong said he would like to see Sacramento take a leadership role in promoting healthier environmental practices throughout state.

“Governor Brown has a unique opportunity to set California on the right course by harnessing the power of agriculture and green jobs,” said Fong, “Investing in healthy children and healthy farms will pay dividends for years to come.”

Paul Towers, a representative for the environmental group, Pesticide Watch, said that city officials like Fong have taken a major role in educating consumers and advocating against the use of chemicals in landscaping and food-growing.

“Consumers throughout Sacramento who live near the fields and purchase and eat strawberries have the right to know about the dangers of pesticide chemicals.”

Towers says that pesticides pose potential health risks to farm workers and consumers and have been linked to cancer, breathing difficulties, and learning disabilities.

Over the past year, his group’s biggest concern has been pressuring the state to ban the use of methyl iodide in strawberry farming.

The methyl iodide pesticide was created to phase out another fumigant, methyl bromide, which was black-listed by the international environmental community for releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Earlier this spring, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation proposed the approval of methyl iodide with a set of restrictions aimed to prevent potenial groundwater contamination and limit its use around schools and medical facilities.  According to representatives from the DPR, a final decision on the pending registration of methyl iodide will be made by the end of the year.



Photos courtesy of Pesticide Watch