Developed by farmers, scientists and health advocates, "Investing in Innovation" is a forward-thinking, innovative action plan containing policy recommendations urging California to adopt a clear timeline and allocate necessary resources to transition all crops in the state off of fumigants by 2020.
This action plan is published by the California State Grange and Californians for Pesticide Reform. The Californian State Grange is a grassroots organization with 10,000 members and 206 chapters across California that supports and advocates for healthy communities, family farms, local economies.
Download the press release or read below.
Download "Investing in Innovation"
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For immediate release: April
Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network
Tracey Brieger, Californians for Pesticide
State Releases Plan for Safe
& scientists call on state to identify clear steps
growers and phase out fumigants by 2020
SACRAMENTO, CA — More than a year after manufacturer
Arysta LifeScience agreed to remove cancer-causing methyl iodide from the
market, state officials released a report today
detailing current research to help strawberry growers transition off other
fumigant pesticides still widely used in agricultural operations. Farmers,
scientists and health advocates welcomed the report, but stressed that swifter
and bolder steps are necessary to ensure that California agriculture remains
innovative and prosperous into the future. In policy recommendations released
today, these groups are urging the state to adopt a clear timeline and allocate
necessary resources to transition all California crops—not just
strawberries—off of fumigants by 2020.
farmers are ready, willing and able to lead the nation in transitioning off of
fumigant pesticides. We need to do this for the sake of our soil, to protect
neighboring communities and to ensure a resilient and sustainable farm economy
into the future. But we need the right tools for the job, and we won’t have those
tools unless the state invests in safe soil management technologies and
techniques to replace fumigants,” said Dan Gannon, owner of
Humble Roots CSA in West Sacramento.
All fumigants are under increasing scrutiny. Methyl bromide, a
widely used fumigant, was banned in 2005 and has remained on the market over a
decade, now slated for phase-out by 2015 under an international treaty
agreement. Restrictions on the use of other fumigants have increased as more
data become available on serious health impacts resulting from exposure. Fumigants
also reduce farmers’ long-term ability to manage pests because they “sterilize”
the soil, killing the live soil organic matter that forms the basis of
naturally resilient farming systems.
A panel of experts convened for over six months
by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a “Nonfumigant
Action Plan” today focusing on transitioning the state’s
strawberry farmers off of fumigants. The panel—whose membership includes academic
specialists in economics and agricultural production, farmworker safety
specialists and business leaders—reviewed replacement techniques for soil
fumigant pesticides, as well as the economic and production-level barriers to
farming without fumigants. The report focuses on strawberry production, though
the new techniques would also be relevant for other crops that rely on
The body of DPR’s 40-page report provides a
thorough and promising review of the most cutting-edge fumigant replacement
technologies and practices, and next research steps to make them market ready. By
contrast, the report’s Executive Summary misses the mark by advocating for
continued methyl bromide use with no end in sight.
to rely on fumigants such as methyl bromide is hitting the snooze alarm on
innovation and putting the continued prosperity of California agriculture at
risk. California officials need to plot a clear path forward to adopt safe
fumigant replacements by 2020 if they want to ensure that the state’s
agricultural economy continues to thrive into the future,” said Tracey Brieger,
co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform.
to DPR’s report, farmers and scientists welcomed these initial steps while
urging the state to take bolder steps to make the transition to fumigant-free
farming a reality. In a plan also released today by farm and health advocates, titled
“Investing in Innovation: A Policy Roadmap for
Resilient, Prosperous Fumigant-Free Farming in California,” the groups urge the state to commit to a
clear goal of transitioning California agriculture off of fumigants by 2020,
including identifying specific benchmarks, funding sources and which groups
will implement the plan. To ensure a successful transition, they recommend that
the state provide direct support and expanded agricultural extension services
for growers who voluntarily want to transition, fund on-farm field trials of
replacement techniques, and expand plant breeding programs to develop
disease-resistant varietals for crops that rely on fumigants.
Golden State wants to maintain its place as one of the most productive and
prosperous agricultural economies in the nation, we must lead the way in
innovative farming practices, starting with healthy soil management. Our
universities, scientists and tax dollars must immediately invest in tools and
techniques that will allow farmers to grow better crops with fewer chemicals.
If we do this, we can have fumigant-free fields in California by 2020,” said Margaret Reeves,
PhD, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network (PAN).
Farmers and entrepreneurs have developed a
variety of effective replacements for fumigant pesticides, including use of
disease-resistant cultivars, solarization, steam treatments, crop rotations,
mustard seed meal and anaerobic soil disinfestation. DPR’s report summarizes
the state of the research on such replacements.
public and policymakers need to understand that moving away from fumigants is a seismic shift for production
agriculture and rural communities. Farmers have always been innovators, but the
economic reality is that no individual farmer can keep an operation profitable
while inventing a whole new way of farming. To keep California’s agricultural
economy productive and competitive, we must move in this direction together and
with public support,” said Bob McFarland, President of the California State
Soil fumigants are applied at very high rates per
acre and are readily transformed into a gas, making them difficult to control
and prone to drifting away from the application site. They are also some of the
most toxic chemicals used in agriculture. Rural families and farmworkers
throughout California face the greatest direct threats of exposure from these
chemicals, and children are especially vulnerable to health risks fumigants
pose. Last month, through the
Californians for Pesticide Reform coalition, the United Farm Workers and PAN submitted more
than 15,000 petitions to the California Environmental Protection Agency urging
Secretary Matt Rodriguez to chart a path to phase out fumigants in California
The “Investing in Innovation” policy roadmap for successful fumigant transition was also released
by Californians for Pesticide Reform and the California State Grange today.
# # #
Available for interviews
· Margaret Reeves,
PhD, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network and soils specialist
· Bob McFarland, President,
California State Grange
· Dan Gannon, farmer
& owner of Humble Roots CSA in West Sacramento