FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coalition Urges Education Conference Committee To Protect Children from
Pesticides in School
Washington, DC, November 27, 2001 - A broad coalition, led by members of Congress, is calling on the Education Conference Committee to include a provision, passed by the Senate in July, to protect children from pesticides used in schools at a press conference today at the U.S. Capitol. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), a member of the Education Conference Committee, and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), a member of the Education Conference Committee, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), an original co-sponsor of the legislation, Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, Gene Harrington, Government Affairs Director of the National Pest Management Association, Veronika Carella, parent activists from Maryland, and Lisa Schultz, mother of two sons who are sensitive to pesticides, voiced their support of the legislation. The legislation, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) of 2001, sponsored by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), is included in the Senate's Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, S.1, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). There is no similar language in the House Education Bill.
SEPA grew out of a landmark agreement among groups representing parents, teachers, health professionals, environmentalists, pest management professionals and the chemical industry. It provides for the adoption of school pest management plans and notification and posting when certain pesticide applications are used. After Senate passage, SEPA ran into opposition from House Agriculture Committee members in a July hearing, though the committee had previously refused to hold hearings on the legislation or participate in negotiations this Spring.
"We urge the Education Conference Committee to join with parents, educators, doctors, and industry representatives to provide for a safe learning environment," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP), which represents the public interest coalition. The legislation requires the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) practices that minimize risk to children, utilize safer practices and provide safety information to parents and school staff when pesticides are used in the schools. Data show that IPM methods save schools money, according to supporters.
With regard to the three major programmatic components of SEPA -- posting, notification and integrated pest management (IPM) -- three states, including Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan, have statutory requirements in all three areas. Ten states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington and West Virginia) require two of the three major components in SEPA. Overall, 29 states have adopted pesticide laws that have one or more of the provisions in SEPA. Of those, fifteen states require written notification, either by universal notice or a registry, and thirteen states recommend or require schools use IPM.