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Health Advocates Challenge US Youth Soccer to Give TruGreen the Boot
(Beyond Pesticides, October 6, 2004)
Thirty prominent children’s and environmental organizations sent a public letter today to US Youth Soccer (USYS) asking them not to renew their sponsorship agreement with TruGreen/ChemLawn. The groups cited concerns about the exploitation of children to market hazardous products to them and their families.

Since the partnership was announced in May 2003, TruGreen/Chemlawn has used address lists provided by USYS to send mailings to “The Family of” young soccer players to promote the use of ChemLawn’s services. The mailings explicitly state that TruGreen/ChemLawn will donate a percentage of each purchase to USYS.

“These mailings are not only a violation of children’s privacy, but a transparent attempt to get children to nag their parents for ChemLawn’s services,” said Dr. Susan Linn, of Harvard’s Judge Baker Children’s Center and author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood. “Marketers are constantly looking for ways to make it harder for parents to say no – in this case by equating support of their children’s soccer team with hiring a company to dump pesticides on their lawn.”

It has long been identified that children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides than adults. In 1993 The National Academy of Sciences found that children are more susceptible to chemicals. The announcement followed several studies with similar conclusions including one published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1987, which found that children in households that use home and garden pesticides are 6.5 times at higher risk of developing leukemia. Other studies have since associated exposure to lawn pesticides with birth defects, liver and kidney damage, and neurological disorders. Today it is common knowledge that children are more likely to come into contact with lawn pesticides and are more vulnerable to their effects.

The letter was written by Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children coalition, a national advocacy group that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. Signatories include Beyond Pesticides and other organizations concerned about the harmful effects of pesticides and the commercialization of childhood.

The letter calls on USYS to:

  • Protect children’s health by not renewing their sponsorship agreement with ChemLawn when the current agreement expires in December 2004.
  • Protect children’s privacy by refusing to share their contact information with USYS –or any other corporate sponsors.
  • Refrain from working with corporate partners whose products and/or practices may cause harm to children.

TAKE ACTION: If you are concerned about the ChemLawn/US Youth Soccer Partnership, contact USYS Director of Marketing Chris Branscome at Tel. 1-800-476-2237 to see how you can get involved. For more information about the hazards of lawn and landscape chemicals, see Beyond Pesticides Lawns and Landscapes program page.