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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

UCLA: California State and County Officials Falling Short in Evaluating Use of Agricultural Pesticides

Since the 1940s, the responsibility for managing California farmers’ use of agricultural pesticides, and the substantial health risks they pose, has been shared by state and county regulators. The state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation registers pesticide products; county-level agricultural commissioners issue permits for the use of “restricted” pesticides — those that present significant human health or environmental concerns. State law requires that when farmers apply for pesticide use permits, county agricultural commissioners must deny the use of a restricted pesticide when feasible safer alternative pesticides — as well as measures like using tarps or creating pesticide “buffer zones” that could mitigate the chemicals’ impact — are available.

But a new study by UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health professors Mr. Tim Malloy and Dr. John Froines and University of Southern California researchers, concludes that commissioners are issuing permits for pesticide use without considering safer alternatives, and without evaluating the health implications of “cumulative exposure,” which occurs when growers apply two or more pesticides to the same or adjacent fields.

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