Daily News Archive
Tracking Law Stalls in Oregon
(Beyond Pesticides, August 11, 2003) A pesticide tracking
law, approved overwhelmingly by Oregon lawmakers four years ago, has
since been put on hold and recently refused the funding it needs to
get going. Jim Myron, natural resource advisor to Gov. Ted Kulongoski,
3602, which would track specific pesticide use in different areas,
would hopefully be activated in 2005. "In the meantime, we will
do what we can to use this 'time out' period for continued public education
and to encourage voluntary reporting of pesticide use," Myron stated
in a letter regarding the tracking law.
Environmentalists expressed disappointment with the decision to withhold
the $600,000 needed, especially since Kulongoski identified the pesticide
tracking issue as a top priority earlier in the year. "We feel
the governor has abdicated his leadership on this issue," said
Matt Blevins of the Oregon Environmental Council. "He seems to
be saying he is not willing to fight for this."
The 1999 law requires farmers, commercial applicators and cities to
report to the state which pesticides are used, when, where, for what
reasons, and in what amounts. The law does not cover residential pesticide
use. The information would be available for researchers at accredited
institutions. The public would also have access to the information in
a yearly report.
The possibilities this law poses for research would greatly benefit
public health. Pesticide poisonings occur everyday. Many of those poisoned
never realize the source of their suffering until months or years later.
Tracking pesticide use in their areas, and the possibilities of runoff
into water or other contamination of the area may greatly assist in
diagnosis and treatment of the individual.
However, farmers and the pesticide industry oppose the law, and have
managed to help keep the program on hold all these years as a result
of their resistance. Paulette Pyle, spokeswoman for a pesticide industry
group, said the rules as currently written could require farmers and
ranchers to list pesticides used on specific fields. The problem with
such specificity, she says, is that it raises the possibility of ecoterrorists
obtaining the information and targeting those individuals for acts of
vandalism or sabotage."
Unfortunately, Oregon is suffering from pesticide use. In April, the
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reported presence of pesticides
in 60 drinking water wells in Willamette Valley. (See Beyond Pesticides'
10, 2003 edition of Daily News.) At the time the pollution was reported,
researchers' next step was to determine the source of the contamination,
and would have benefited greatly from a tracking system.
For more information and resources regarding pesticides in Oregon,
or in your own state, see Beyond Pesticides' State