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Recent editorials in the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun underscored what YOU have been telling our Maryland legislators the past few months- we need a pesticide use reporting data base! It takes a village to pass a good bill and you all are important members of our village.

Thank you for your calls and e-mails - they made a difference!

Despite significant opposition from the Farm Bureau, the Agribusiness Industry and the Lawn Care and Pest Control Industry, with your help and the help of so many Maryland moms, they were not able to undermine our efforts. Instead, an amended Maryland Pesticide Reporting and Information Act (HB 775/SB675) has passed the Maryland General Assembly on April 8, 2013, the last day of the Maryland legislative session, that brings all stakeholders to the table. This is a significant step forward in light of opponents killing the bill three times before.

The amended bill sets up a time-limited balanced work group with a clear charge - to assess the need and best format for a centralized database of commercial applicators’ pesticide use. Although we already know the need exists and have identified the best format as outlined in the original bill, the work group provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to work together and to provide a preliminary report on their findings and recommendations to Maryland’s House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee by December 31. 2013.

Our Smart on Pesticides Campaign will be represented on the work group, which will also include public health and environmental health experts. We will keep close tabs on its progress and we will keep you posted. Our work is not done! We intend to pass a bill in 2014 establishing a centralized database so that our public health experts have the data they need to assess the impact of pesticides on our families.

We will begin preparing for bill passage in 2014  as soon as the work group begins to meet.

Despite industry’s power, our collective voices made sure that legislators took a step in the right direction. Because of the over 2,000 calls and e-mails and the 6,000 petitions signed in support of the bill- we have put Maryland's legislators on notice. The message is clear that we need to establish a database.

We could not have done it without you!

Exposures to pesticides are linked to many chronic illnesses, including asthma, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, cancer as well as to birth defects and fertility problems.

Pesticides are particularly dangerous for children. A growing body of scientific evidence links pesticides to adverse health impacts on children’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems – even at low exposure levels. In November 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first policy statement aimed at minimizing pesticide exposure in children and identifying the need for public health tracking of pesticides.

The battle is far from won — if you're concerned about harmful pesticides, make sure you sign up so we can keep you informed, and hold our elected officials accountable.

With your continued help, we will achieve implementation of a pesticide use reporting database in Maryland.

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


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