Originally published in the Salinas California. Access online at www.thecalifornian.com/story/opinion/2018/03/27/letter-editor-celebrating-chavez-while-mourning-epa-reversal-chlorpyrifos-ban/463685002/
The anniversary of two important events in history are approaching – the birth of the great civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, who with Dolores Huerta led the struggle to gain basic human rights for farmworkers, and the EPA’s reversal under Scott Pruitt of the proposed ban of chlorpyrifos, a developmental neurotoxin used on crops in the US.
We celebrate the former and mourn the latter. Advocates across the nation were deeply disappointed in the EPA’s failure to protect children, farmworkers, the general population and the environment by extending legal use of chlorpyrifos. The November 2016 EPA risk assessment for chlorpyrifos deemed the chemical too dangerous for use, so who is Scott Pruitt listening to? A good guess would be gigantic corporate money interests!
Soon after Pruitt’s decision, over 50 farmworkers were sickened outside of Bakersfield when chlorpyrifos drifted from a nearby field, in high enough levels to cause nausea, vomiting, and fainting.
The legacy of Cesar Chavez will be honored with a march and rally but we will not celebrate the current EPA leadership, that is ensuring continued use of this poison in fields and around neighborhoods and schools. In the words of Corretta Scott King, “Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.” Let’s continue Cesar’s noble fight and not give up until chlorpyrifos and other harmful pesticides are out of the fields. See you at the Cesar Chavez march on April 8th.
- Christie Turano, Salinas