Thank you MomsRising and Maryland Moms!
With your help, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 621 / Senate Bill 700, legislation that generates revenue for professional pesticide usage reporting through a modest increase on the annual pesticide manufacturers product registration fee. Establishing dedicated funds for pesticide reporting in Maryland is a first step toward better protecting our families, the Chesapeake Bay and wildlife – including our very important honeybees.
Our children are at greater risk from pesticide exposures. In addition to a growing body of research linking pesticides to various impacts including asthma, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, cancer, and more, the need to address serious pesticide-related outcomes is highlighted by the recent cover story in The Nation on pesticides and the young brain. At hearings on the recently passed legislation, pediatrician and medical toxicologist Lorne Garrettson, representing the Maryland chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics, testified that, “Substantial studies show an association between pesticide use and disease. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that in the not-too-distant future we are going to see continued links between other pesticide use, both domestic and agricultural, and disease in childhood. That day is coming. We are going to have major decisions to make in the near future to protect our children”.
Maryland moms, public health experts and scientists let Maryland’s legislators know that professional pesticide applicators, including farmers and lawn care companies, need to make their pesticide use information available to public health and environmental researchers to help them determine if and when pesticides are affecting public health, waterways and wildlife.
Dr. Melissa Perry, Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University is one of those researchers. She is studying the impacts of pesticides on farmers in the Potomac River Valley and supported legislation. She recently said that "A pesticide use reporting system will be a bedrock to the collection of worthwhile and very beneficial information. Statistically valid and representative pesticide use data are critically needed for public health research such as ours."
A January 2014 OpinionWorks survey showed that Maryland voters have profound concern about the health and environmental risks posed by pesticides and overwhelmingly support better pesticide use reporting. When informed of possible pesticide-related risks, a total of 92% of the citizens surveyed expressed concern about pesticides, with 65% very concerned. Survey responses showed that Maryland women have extremely high levels of concern about pesticides at 89%.
The Smart on Pesticides Campaign – with your help - will continue its work to ensure that we establish a viable and comprehensive pesticide use database so researchers can assess which pesticide exposures are linked to cancer and autism clusters and other impacts, and that can be replicated in other states. To date, California is the only state with a viable pesticide use reporting system. Researchers and the public in every state have a right to know what pesticides we are exposed to and possible impacts! If you haven't already, please join our Smart on Pesticides Campaign.
Ruth Berlin, L.C.S.W.-C., is founder and Executive Director of the Maryland Pesticide Network. She is also a practicing psychotherapist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.