Thursday, February 23, 2012

HB 5155 in Connecticut is a Really Big Deal

"With so many unknowns and with plausible evidence of harm to children it makes no sense for our children to be involuntarily exposed to the unnecessary use of these toxic chemicals especially when there are safe, effective affordable alternatives." - Bill Duesing as quoted in the Connecticut Post

Hi All,

I know you must be tired of us only discussing GMO-Labeling and the potential reversal of the pesticide ban.  But these are really, really important issues.  Connecticut has the opportunity to either take big steps in the right direction towards toxics safety in foods and school grounds, or taking ten steps backwards.

Healthy soil yields pest-
resistant plants!
Lets focus on the pesticide bill. The NOFA Organic Land Care Program has just concluded two of our three accreditation courses, and we've accredited about 65 new professionals (if you're interested, there's one more course in Rhode Island!)  Since I am a new employee, this is the first time I've sat through the course (though I did have the pleasure of coordinating it), and this comprehensive thirty hour course focuses on plant health, because the best pesticide (for people, the environment, pests and plants) seems to be prevention.  We also celebrated some of our landscapers who have been accredited for ten years this past December.  Organic has worked for these landscapers for ten years - it just needs to be done right!

There was a public hearing about HB 5155, an Act Modifying the Ban on Pesticide Applications on School Grounds on Wednesday, February 22.  I was unable to go because it was the last day of our Accreditation Course, and I needed to moderate the Accreditation Exam (which everyone did very well on, by the way). Yes, it's a little bit ironic that our program accredited 36 new professionals prepared to offer the services that school groundskeepers and pesticide lobbyists claim are too difficult, too expensive, or simply impossible on the same day as this hearing.  

Since I couldn't go, I submitted the following testimony:
What kind of chemicals should children really be exposed to?
I am writing from the classroom of the Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care, overseen by the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Organic Land Care Program.  We are in the fourth day of the course, and the students have learned about turf management, planting, mulching, fertilizing and pest management all without the chemicals that the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care have found to be both harmful and unnecessary. 

Connecticut took the lead on toxics safety and child health regulations with the pesticide ban.  The pesticides banned by P.A. 09-56 have been linked to serious health issues including, but not limited to, birth defects, behavior disorders, respiratory disease like asthma and potentially cancer.  Children are especially vulnerable to these dangerous chemicals because they play in the grass and because of their smaller, developing bodies. 
The pesticide ban is a law that Connecticut should be proud of.  Our state has prioritized the health of children over the importance of bright green grass, and the profits of chemical companies. 
Widespread non-compliance must be addressed by education and training support from programs similar to the NOFA Organic Land Care’s Accreditation.  More parents and families are choosing organic landscapers for their homes.   To then expose their children to these harmful chemicals at school disrespects these parents’ values.  As awareness grows about the potential threats of lawn chemicals, one can only expect greater support for the pesticide ban in Connecticut schools.
NOFA has the only internationally approved
land care standards
The alternative to pesticides exists. Organic land care has been applied to sports fields, turf grass, parks, homes, and many types of grounds. NOFA's Accreditation Program is in its twelfth year and we have a number of accredited organic professionals with decades of experience and many successful years offering organic services. As with every sustainable practice, at first it is more difficult. Organic land care requires that land care professionals develop an understanding of the ecology of the systems they are working with, and apply these lessons to the grounds. 
To address non-compliance with a law by simply eliminating the law is unthinkable.  Using this standard, most new laws would need to be reversed in the first couple years that new regulations take effect.  To move backwards in regards to laws protecting the health of children would be an embarrassment for Connecticut.
Kristiane Huber

Bill Duesing, our Executive Director also submitted an eloquent testimony which you can read here, you can read all the testimonies on this pageWant to comment on the bill? Beyond Pesticides has set up this online petition which will help you contact your legislator directly. 


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