Pesticide approval process in Ventura and Santa Barbara may have violated state law, UCLA report finds

Permits were granted without considering safe alternatives for hazardous pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, or how pesticides may interact with one another

Ventura, CA: California’s County Agricultural Commissioners failed to comply with state law requiring them to not issue permits for hazardous pesticide use without first considering whether safe alternatives exist or whether there is potential for harmful interactions with other pesticides used at the same time. That’s the explosive conclusion of a new report by UCLA researchers released yesterday entitled Governance on the Ground: Evaluating the Role of County Agricultural Commissioners in Reducing Toxic Exposures https://law.ucla.edu/centers/environmental-law/emmett-institute-on-climate-change-and-the-environment/publications/governance-on-the-ground/

In fact, the report found that none of the 24 California counties studied – including Ventura and Santa Barbara – was in compliance, indicating an absence of oversight of a key set of state laws governing pesticide use.

The report has touched a nerve among community members alarmed at continued use of the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos, linked to irreversible brain damage in young children. The UCLA team studied the process for granting permits to use chlorpyrifos in 13 agricultural counties – including Santa Barbara County – and found no evidence that safer alternatives were considered. In every case, agricultural commissioners ceded their oversight role to private Pest Control Advisors hired by growers, and took no steps to ensure compliance with the law. The report cites a failure of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to conduct complete assessments during pesticide registration thus undermining existing laws and failing to support County Agriculture Commissioners to be accountable to protect public health. In fact, the report states that when safer, feasible and effective alternatives exist, the state should not register the pesticide.

“Until the state withdraws the registration for chlorpyrifos, we’ve called on the new Ventura County Ag Commissioner to require growers to use safer alternatives before approving chlorpyrifos use” said Olga Medina, a farmworker advocate and member of VC CAPS. “We hope he will correct the behavior of the last Commissioner. Our babies’ brains are at stake.”


Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety

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