Pesticide regulations

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, July 11, 2008

While regulation of pesticides has long been primarily the jurisdiction of the Cal EPA’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), AB 977(Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco) would give local jurisdiction authority to regulate these substances.  This bill has been designated an emergency statute and would go into effect immediately if passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.  

To quote from DPR: "Pesticides are unique among toxic substances. They are not an unwanted byproduct of another process, for example, of an industrial operation or an automobile engine. Pesticides are produced specifically for their toxicity to a target pest and must be purposely introduced into the environment to do their job.  Therefore, regulation of pesticides does not focus solely on assessing toxicity but also on managing risk by controlling exposure. The effects – beneficial, harmful or benign – of pesticides or any substance are dependent on several factors. The most important is exposure – how much and how often"

If AB 977 were enacted into law, more than 500 local jurisdictions could adopt separate regulations pertaining to the use of pesticides.  The result would be a patchwork of regulations that would impact the public health, economy and environment of California.  

Public health, sanitation and safety may be compromised.  Reducing the availability and use of tested and effective pesticides could erode the ability to control pests that carry disease and spread allergens and infectious germs.

Production of both non-agricultural and agricultural crops would be hindered.  Potential multiple regulations of these valuable productions tools will limit the ability to control pests that have detrimental effects on crops including nursery, sod, flower and other specialty crops.  It also puts local producers at a competitive disadvantage to those without such ordinances further stressing the ability to remain competitive.

Human health could suffer.  Uncontrolled pests cause real and documented human health risks ranging from increased asthma attacks caused by cockroach infestations, to hanta viruses and plague carried by rodents, Lyme disease carried by ticks, to West Nile Virus and other Encephalitic diseases transmitted by mosquitoes that may cause severe illness and even loss of life.  

California has the most comprehensive regulations in the nation restricting the use of pesticides and has the largest and best trained enforcement organization, in DPR.  AB 977 would undermine this comprehensive system of regulation and enforcement and jeopardize California’s citizens, environment and economy.

On June 30th, AB 977 was amended from a study bill into its present form and has recently been referred to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.  CMTA is now on record in opposition.  

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