March 11, 1996
California Methyl Bromide Ban Overturned Despite Public
Support for Controls
On Thursday, March 7, 1996, the California legislature
approved a bill overturning a scheduled state ban on the
widely-used and highly toxic pesticide methyl bromide.*
California Governor Pete Wilson has promised to sign the bill
into law promptly, despite strong evidence of public support
for stricter controls on pesticides that threaten public
Methyl bromide was to be banned in California at the end of
this month; however, Governor Wilson called a special session
of the California Legislature for the express purpose of
extending the deadline. After rejecting amendments to
increase protection for people living near application sites
and establish a phased reduction of the chemical, both the
California Senate and the Assembly have approved the bill and
sent it to the governor's desk.
These actions are sharply at odds with public opinion in the
state, as evidenced by a recent survey of 1,049 registered
California voters, in which 79% of voters polled said that
California should ban, phase out or more strictly regulate
pesticides suspected of causing cancer or reproductive harm
(36% of those polled favored banning such pesticides
immediately). An even greater number, 85%, said the state
should establish goals for reducing the use of pesticides and
create programs to help farmers and state agencies achieve
The poll was conducted for the California Coalition for
Pesticide Use Reduction** (CPUR) by Lake Research of
Washington, D.C., which frequently conducts polls on
environmental issues for U.S. News and World Report and the
Clinton Administration. The CPUR poll, which had a margin of
error of 3.1%, surveyed only registered voters who said they
were likely to vote in November 1996.
"This poll shows strong support throughout California for
eliminating use of the most hazardous pesticides," said
Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research. "California
legislators should take heed that Californians are very aware
and concerned about the effects of pesticides on women and
Lake found that more than 80% of Californians are worried
about the effects of pesticides on pregnant women, children
and farmworkers. Voters' concern was highest for pregnant
women and children, with 65 and 67%, respectively, saying
they are "very worried" about pesticides' effects on those
Other findings of the survey:
-- 68% of Californians said they often worry about pesticide
residues in drinking water and food.
-- 60% of Californians believe that the public health risks
of pesticides outweigh the agricultural benefits.
-- 49% believe that most pesticides, even when used
responsibly, are dangerous to human health, versus 39% who
believe most are safe when used properly.
-- 76% believe it is practical, for both large and small
farmers, to switch to farming without chemical pesticides.
-- 82% favor requiring warning signs to be posted on
roadsides, parks and
school grounds that have been treated with pesticides.
* Methyl bromide is an acutely toxic pesticide that also is a
potent destroyer of the Earth's protective ozone layer.
Methyl bromide exposure has been tied to birth defects in
laboratory animals, and ozone depletion is linked to
increasing rates of skin cancer, according to the federal
Centers for Disease Control. The state Department of
Pesticide Regulation reports that in the last decade at least
18 Californians have died from methyl bromide exposure,
hundreds have become ill and thousands of residents have
evacuated their homes because of methyl bromide accidents.
** Members of the California Coalition for Pesticide Use
Reduction include California Rural Legal Assistance
Foundation, California Public Interest Group (CalPIRG)
Charitable Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council,
Pesticide Action Network North America and Pesticide Watch
Source: Pesticide Action Network North America
(PANNA)/California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) press
release, March 7, 1996.
Contact: PANNA; Bill Walker, CLCV, phone (415) 896-5550 x110;
Celinda Lake, Lake Research, phone (202)-776-9066; Mary
Raftery, CalPIRG, phone (916) 448-4516.
| Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) |
| Phone:(415) 541-9140 Fax:(415) 541-9253 |
| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.panna.org/panna/|
| PANNA, 116 New Montgomery, #810, San Francisco, CA 94105 |
|*To subscribe to PANUPS send email to MAJORDOMO@igc.apc.org|
| with the following text on one line: subscribe panups |
| To unsubscribe send the following: unsubscribe panups |
|*For basic information about PANNA, send an email message |
| to email@example.com |