Farm Workers Sue to Stop Pesticide Use

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A coalition of farm workers and public health groups have challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow the continued use of the pesticide diazinon, claiming the government “relied on incomplete and inaccurate risks and benefits assessments that significantly understate the risks of diazinon uses and exaggerate the benefits of the pesticide.”

     In a federal lawsuit, United Farm Workers, Pesticide Action Network North America and others claim the agency should deny re-registration of the toxic organophosphate, a drifting airborne chemical that can contaminate food and drinking water. Farm workers are exposed to diazinon as they mix, load or apply the pesticide in fields.
     Additionally, diazinon “contaminates the environment and poisons wildlife, including threatened and endangered species,” the lawsuit claims.
     The pesticide causes illness by blocking the body’s ability to control nerve impulses. Anyone exposed to the chemical can develop muscle spasms, dizziness, seizures, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis and even death.
     The EPA recognized the health risks to humans and wildlife, but concluded that the pesticide’s benefits outweigh the costs.
     However, the plaintiffs say the agency overlooked some of the costs, including all the health, environmental, economic and social risks associated with the toxic substance. They seek an injunction requiring the EPA to make new re-registration eligibility decisions based on a more accurate cost-benefit analysis, and establishing temporary protective measures to prevent diazinon from harming nearby agricultural communities until the EPA “brings its diazinon registrations into compliance with the law.”
     Earthjustice, Farmworker Justice and the California Rural Legal Assistance are representing the plaintiffs.

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