I am writing to ask you urgently to email or write to your MEP about some European legislation on pesticides that the European Parliament will vote on in a plenary session on around 23 October. As with many environmental and food safety issues, crucial decisions affecting all of us are now taken at European level, and pesticide safety is no exception. The European Commission are introducing new, Europe-wide laws on pesticides, and there is a chance that these will actually strengthen protection of the public from dangerous sprays.
The European Parliament's Environment Committee has agreed several key amendments to the proposed law, but these now have to be agreed by the European Parliament, and all MEPs have a vote. The chemical industry and the UK's National Farmers' Union are lobbying hard to have all these changes rejected by the Parliament, while Georgina Downs of UK Pesticides Campaign, who initiated many of these proposals, has been working to have them accepted. I have listed below five of the key amendments that the MEPs will have to agree or reject. If you feel any of these are important, and should be agreed by the European Parliament, please let your MEP know. You can find your MEP's name and contact details at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/public.do?language=en
Many thanks to all of you who asked Gordon Brown 'to Wake Up!' to the benefits of organic food and farming, by feeding him an organic breakfast. It is still not to late to join in if you haven't already done so - we'll be reporting the number of hits to the Prime Minister - open this link to play and email it on to your friends and colleagues: http://www.soilassociation.org/wakeupgordon
Prohibiting pesticide use in and around public areas like people's homes, hospitals, public parks, playgrounds and schools The Environment Committee voted in favour of an amendment to prohibit pesticide use in and around public areas, including residential areas, parks, public gardens, sports and recreation grounds, school grounds, playgrounds, and in the vicinity of public healthcare facilities (clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, health resorts, hospices), particularly, although not exclusively, to protect sensitive groups, such as, babies, children, pregnant women, embryos and foetuses, the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions and who may be taking medication, along with all other vulnerable groups. The amendment also specified that the no-spray zones should be substantial and that in all these areas non-chemical alternatives should be used.
Vulnerable groups to include residents subject to high pesticide exposure over the long term The Environment Committee voted in favour of an amendment that described vulnerable groups as: “Persons needing specific consideration when assessing the acute and chronic health effects of plant protection products. These include pregnant and nursing women, embryos, and fetuses, infants and children, the elderly, people who are ill and those taking medication, workers and residents subject to high pesticide exposure over the long term.”
Residents to have the right to know what is being sprayed next to where they live Environment Committee voted in favour of an obligation to inform residents and neighbours about pesticide spraying in their locality, as well as the requirement for farmers and other pesticide users to provide information on the pesticides used directly to residents and neighbours who request access to it.
Call a pesticide a pesticide (not a 'lant protection product'!) The Environment Committee voted in favour of an amendment to change the entire terminology used throughout the adopted text, including the title, from 'Plant Protection Products' to 'esticides'. The term 'lant protection products' attempts to put a positive spin on chemicals that are deliberately designed to be toxic. The use of this wording throughout the Commission’s proposal, including the title, was inappropriate as many members of the public will not be familiar with this terminology, and its use could lead to confusion amongst members of the public.
Give priority to ways of growing healthy crops without using pesticides The Environment Committee also voted in favour of a number of amendments for the prioritization of non-chemical methods of plant protection and pest and crop management. The only real solution to eliminate the adverse impacts of pesticides is to take a preventative approach with the widespread adoption of truly sustainable non-chemical and natural methods of plant protection and pest and crop management (including rotation, physical and mechanical control and natural predator management), as happens in organic systems. This protects not only public health, but animals, wildlife, air, water, soil, food and the wider environment. Reliance on complex chemicals designed to kill plants, insects or other forms of life, cannot be classified as sustainable.
NEW YORK CITY MUST STOP SPRAYING TOXIC PESTICIDES IMMEDIATELY!
The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor Bloomberg's decision to renew mass-spraying of dangerous pesticides in the Bronx and Queens. Furthermore, we condemn the New York City government's advice to residents and visitors that they personally use insect repellants containing DEET on themselves and their children. DEET is especially dangerous for children and should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths.
The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled by NYC's reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes.
"After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg Administration is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City," said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City government.
That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:
- may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose - cause adverse health effects - kill mosquitoes' natural predators (such as dragonflies) - increase mosquitoes' resistance to the sprays, and - are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.
The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that "there are no significant risks of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product," said No Spray Coalition coordinator Mitchel Cohen. "This is simply not true," Cohen said, claiming that the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.
"These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to 'save' us from the so-called West Nile virus," Howard Brandstein added. "Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease."
The pesticide the City is spraying -- "Anvil 10 + 10" -- belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.
Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin -- a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory -- as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls "inert ingredients.")
Thousands of New Yorkers were severely sickened by the spraying in 1999 and 2000. A number of members of the No Spray Coalition, including several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, died from pesticide-related illnesses.
Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MC or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the spraying. "The City administration must be made to understand that pesticides are extremely dangerous to human health as well as to the natural environment, and have long-term consequences," Cohen said.
The No Spray Coalition strongly urges the City to stop pesticide spraying immediately, reconsider its entire approach, and seek alternative, safe means to control mosquitoes. There are natural, safe ways for each person to ward off mosquitoes. The City should not be poisoning the entire population.
*********************************************************** 2. FROM JENNIFER JAGER,* Treasuer, No Spray Coalition
Mitchel Cohen, who coordinates the No Spray Coalition, was asked how he survives financially. "Well, I'm independently poor," he joked. In reality, Mitchel is going through some very rough times financially and needs our help.
Unlike most not-for-profit organizations, none of us involved in the No Spray Coalition receives a salary for our environmental and activist work. We set it up that way intentionally. That way, all funds donated to the No Spray Coalition go directly into getting the issue of pesticides into the public consciousness.
So when Mitchel sent out a private appeal recently for funds to enable him to reprint his two poetry books -- "The Permanent Carnival" and "One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight" (both with beautiful cover paintings by artist/activist Haideen Anderson) -- I thought that members and supporters of our activist work might be interested in helping him out. In exchange, he'll send you one (or both) of his poetry books, which he sells on the streets and subways of New York City for $14 apiece.
Brooklyn NoSprayer Meg Feeley read the manuscript of "The Permanent Carnival" before it was published. "I fell in love with some of these, especially the lead poem, The Permanent Carnival. Gorgeous, want to almost only have that one," she wrote. "Really strong, free and lovely. Important, too, the chronicle of a time when it was (properly) dangerous and yet possible to invent one's life in the context of a political understanding. I will take another look when I can, but I really wanted to let you know that in a world with an awful lot of books, I think this one's important to get out there ... "
Brown University Professor and historian Paul Buhle, writing from Providence, Rhode Island, had this to say:
"I had 4 hours to read it on the train home and I read every poem twice...some of them three times....I am eager to review it for someplace. The poems are splendid and a true representation of your menschlikhe self."
Mitchel's hard work and creativity have enabled us to challenge and reshape the dominant paradigm when it comes to pesticides. He was instrumental in shepherding the No Spray Coalition's lawsuit through the labyrinth of lies and denial, on a shoestring. (By the way, under federal rules the No Spray Coalition doesn't get a cent of the settlement; the $80,000 the City agreed to pay goes to five other grassroots environmental groups that we selected for the great work they are doing.)
So, I am urging you to send directly to Mitchel a sizable "thank you," in the form of much-needed funds. If you can afford $100 or more, that's great and very welcome. But even if you can only afford $25, or $10, those add up and will go a long way. For those who have more funds available, please chip in for those who don't, in appreciation of Mitchel's dedication and hard work -- and receive one (or both) of Mitchel's poetry books in exchange. (Mitchel says he'll gladly send you a copy of either of the books regardless of the amount you send him -- something about "from each according to their ability to each according to their needs.") This will allow him to continue to survive in New York, publish his poems, and move forward with the environmental and activist work that is so important to all of us!
Thank you, Jennifer Jager
* I want to make clear that, for legal reasons, I am writing in my capacity as an environmental and social justice activist, not formally as treasurer of the No Spray Coalition. The funds you send to Mitchel as a result of this appeal will not go to the No Spray Coalition, but to him privately.
Please send your check to:
Mitchel Cohen 2652 Cropsey Avenue, #7H Brooklyn, New York 11214 (718) 449-0037
SOME OTHER COMMENTS ON THE PERMANENT CARNIVAL AND MITCHEL'S POEMS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have had the most beautiful hour just now, reading your poems, communing with you, old friend. You are still, always, a triumph of joy and compassion and clarity. The title poem, The Permanent Carnival, especially, evokes the delight and pain of our lives, revives my memory. I'm going to use your work as a model for mine. I got back from the east coast and read your book of poetry ... I loved it! Absolutely inspiring. ... I keep it by my desk now, enjoying the humor and language. ...Thanks for all your great writing. - Mark Rudd, Albuquerque, New Mexico
* * *
I like the poem that you sent -- especially the images of broken cells and our silent partners. Sometime we should exchange our writings, my short stories and your poems. - Deeadra Brown, Jackson Heights, Queens
* * * I Bought a copy of "The Permanent Carnival" from you when you were selling them in front of the Barnes & Noble on 7th Ave in Brooklyn, and I wanted to let you know that enjoyed the book. "Plowing the Snow" was my favorite poem. - Michael Y, of Brooklyn
* * * I heard you [read your poems] on Bob Fass' show on WBAI last Thurs., and thought the program was terrific. - Gloria Bletter, New York
* * * We were listening when you were on WUSB radio (Mort Mecklosky's show) about a week ago. Mitch, it's so good to hear from you!!!!!! The poetry and songs on the radio were really fantastic. Sound a lot like my own thoughts in many ways. I was looking for a Newsday photo of you, me and Ron Kovic that I have somewhere. I'll send it when I find it. It's here SOMEWHERE!!!!! Carry on the good work. - Feliz, Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY
* * * I really enjoyed the poems in The Permanent Carnival. Warm, intelligent, lively, colorful, passionate.. Good reading! Bravo. And the cover is gorgeous. - Hazel Rowley, Cambridge MA
* * * I have been meaning to e-mail you since "The Permanent Carnival Poems" arrived in my mailbox. It was the day of the huge storm that left us without electrical power for 6 days. I couldn't wait to read the poems the evening that they arrived. In the midst of transformers blowing up, and trees falling, I was tucked away with a candle in my office reading "The Permanent Carnival", "Nuclear Family", "Waitress From Another Country", and others. I have yet to read all of them. They are like a bag of "carnival cookies" (my favorite as a kid) that I would savor and only eat a few at a time. - Debi, Olympia WA
* * * Now I see why Saint Nicholas wears red...I greatly appreciated the book you sent me, especially the poem about your father (a perfect little gem that deserves inclusion in an important anthology). I also really liked your spoof on Howl, although in the next edition I suggest you change "gonadal streets" to something else (but two syllables only in the adjective). How about "broker's streets" (when I was working third shift at law firms in the financial district I truly did drag myself through the broker's streets at dawn). - Dennis King, NYC
* * * Thank you Mitch for putting history and emotions together; thank you for telling about yourself and about your feelings, those feelings that make us be ourselves and, once exposed, permit others to reveal their own, and share. - Maurice Bazin, Florianopolis, Brazil
* * * I am reading some of the poems in your Permanent Carnival as I feel like it, the latest one revolved around that waitress from another country.... I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are still activists who REALLY care for the body. - Donia Mili, NY State
You can also hear Mitchel Cohen's environmental activist reports every week over the internet on "Steal This Radio", via TribecaRadio.net. Click on http://www.tribecaradio.net/blog/categories/stealThisRadio/ At your convenience select one of the Steal This Radio shows archived there, and click on the arrow in the upper righthand corner. Lots of great commentary, interviews, music and poetry in every show!
******************************************* 3. From Democracy Now – FM RADIO LICENSES AVAILABLE TO COMMUNITY GROUPS, BUT NOT FOR LONG
A once in a generation opportunity, hundreds of Full Power FM radio licenses are available to community groups across the country. You only have two months to prepare your application, you and your community group can do this - if you act now!
********************************************* 4. LETTERS against the Spraying
PESTICIDES & THE STUDIES Even tiny amounts of pesticides kill fish, horseshoe crabs (which, in addition to being the oldest creatures on the planet, are indispensable for scientific research), butterflies, bees, birds, dragonflies, frogs, and lobsters, as well as mosquitoes and unwanted critters. The labels on Malathion, Pyrethroids, and piperonyl butoxide (a so-called synergist and a carcinogen) all warn against spraying over or near bodies of water.
Pesticides are especially dangerous for brain and nerve development in young children, and for elderly people. Bicycles and Wheelchairs pick up pesticides on their wheels and bring them into the apartment or house. Children touch the sprays and put their fingers into their mouths.
In April 2007, the City agreed to settle a 7-year-old lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani's massive and indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides brought under the Clean Water Act by the No Spray Coalition, Beyond Pesticides, Disabled in Action, and Save Organic Standards - New York, and a handful of individual plaintiffs. In addition to winning $80,000 for a number of local grassroots environmental and wildlife protection groups, as part of the settlement agreement the City admitted that: "Pesticides may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose, ... cause adverse health effects, ... kill mos quitoes' natural predators, ... increase mosquito resistance to the sprays, ... and are not presently approved for direct application to waterways."
The following seven categories of published studies speak directly to this grave issue, which is one of extraordinary environmental INjustice.
i. Centers for Disease Control study that found that all residents of the United States, including residents of New York City and State, now carry dangerously high levels of pesticides and their residues in our bodies, which may have onerous effects on our health. (Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Centers for Disease Control, 2005);
ii. U.S. Geological Study, which shows that a large percentage of waterways and streams throughout the United States, including those in New York City and State, has been found to contain environmentally destructive pesticides that may severely impact on animal and aquatic life. (U.S. Geological Survey: The Quality of Our Nation's Waters, Pesticides in the Nation's Streams and Ground Water, 1992-2001, http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2005/1291/);
iii. Studies confirming that pesticides are both a trigger for asthma attacks and a root cause of asthma (Salam, et al: Early-life environmental risk factors for asthma findings from the children's health study. Environmental Health Perspectives 112(6):760-765.), and that asthma is epidemic throughout New York City;
iv. Cicero Swamp Study, showing that pesticides killed off the natural predators of mosquitoes and that mosquitoes came back much stronger after the spraying, because all of their natural predators (which have a longer reproductive cycle) were dead. These studies were done in New York state for mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and found a 15-fold increase in mosquitoes after repeated spraying, and that virtually all of the new generations of mosquitoes were pesticide-resistant. (Journal of the Am Mosquito Control Assoc, Dec; 13(4):315-25, 1997 Howard JJ, Oliver New York State Department of Health, SUNY-College ESF, Syracuse 13210, USA);
v. Studies that show that pesticides have cumulative, multigenerational, degenerative impacts on human health, especially on the development of children which may not be evident immediately and may only appear years or even decades later (The Multigenerational, Cumulative and Destructive Impacts of Pesticides on Human Health, Especially on the Physical, Emotional and Mental Development of Children and Future Generations. A Submission to The House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development by Physicians and Scientists for a Healthy World, February 2000; Guillette, Elizabeth, et al: Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Pre-school Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico. Environmental Health Perspective, Vol. 106, No.6, June 1998; Kaplan, Jonathan et al. Failing Health. Pesticides Use in California Schools. Report by Californians for Pesticide Reform, 2002, American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health; Ambient Air Pollution: Respiratory Hazards to Children, Pediatrics 91, 1993);
vi. Studies that show that pesticides make it easier for mosquitoes and other organisms to get and transmit West Nile Virus due to damage to their stomach lining caused by pesticides. (Haas, George. West Nile virus, spraying pesticides the wrong response. American Bird Conservancy, October 23, 2000); and,
vii. Studies that show that pyrethroid spraying is ineffective in reducing the number of the next generation of mosquitoes. (Efficacy of Resmethrin Aerosols Applied from the Road for Suppressing Culex Vectors of West Nile Virus, Michael R. Reddy, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, et. al., Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, Volume 6, Number 2, June 2006)
The use of toxic pesticides to control mosquitoes is a significant Environmental Justice issue; there have been no realistic environmental impact studies in the last few years on spraying in NYC; no studies in NYC of the pesticide-spraying's effects on human health and the natural environment; and no studies of cumulative impacts of different pesticides on the population.
If you live in NYC, were planning to visit but are now having second thoughts, or if you just want to express your opinion, please write to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html .
************************************* Mr. Mayor,
I was considering visiting your great city this coming September, but now have to reconsider my plans due to your spraying of toxic pesticides in Queens.
I am a cancer survivor and do my very best to limit my exposure to toxic chemicals. It is a shame I can't visit and spend my money in your city.
Thanks for your time.
This is an issue that resonates highly with me and my neighbors in north Flushing. I was diagnosed with a blood cancer and suspect that the malathion spraying in 1999 may have contributed to the illness.
The spraying was done without setting up a control group to monitor the effects and other environmental impacts of the spraying program. While West Nile virus is a health issue of concern, is the cure worse than the disease? There are many people in this area of Queens who may also have been negatively impacted.
This material is not as safe as the Health Department would have you believe. Note the caveat at the end of the PDF in section 15 "Other Information."
Another thing to consider is the fact that while the material is sprayed at night, when the sun comes up and starts to heat things up, the dew and freshly sprayed chemicals will evaporate into the air that is then breathed in by the people in the area sprayed. This population includes children, those with compromised immune systems, and just about everyone else.
************************************************ I tried to get photos the night they sprayed Flushing, but the night shots came out very blurry. Although bilingual flyers had been given out hours earlier about the spraying, they were vague and noted zipcodes sprayed between 8pm and 6am but not specific streets and times. So at 8:10 when I went to take the photos, Main Street was full of the usual heavy pedestrian traffic as always. Fruit stands still had uncovered fruits and vegetables; street peddlars were still on the streets selling the usual toys and trinkets. Macy's was full of shoppers and workers who would have to leave through streets that could possibly be sprayed. Crowds of people periodically emerged from the subways.
Luckily the spraying -- at that time -- was not along Main Street. We were on Roosevelt and Union, not as crowded as Main Street but still with many people walking around, when we heard a police car making a mumbled and unclear announcement, I thought they were pulling someone over for traffic. Then I saw the truck following them, shooting big clouds of Anvil into the air. I'd thought they would be spraying low but the cloud was shooting high up into the air.
We ran in the opposite direction to get away from the direct cloud then went back to get a photo of the truck as it was leaving. The photo is blurry but you can distinguish the cloud and that there are people on the street.
DayStar Chou Flushing, Queens NY
************************************************** No Spray Coalition PO Box 739 Peck Slip Station New York City, NY 10272
The pesticide was designed to kill worms infesting the roots of banana trees on Latin American plantations.
But at least 5,000 agricultural workers from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama have filed five lawsuits in this country claiming they were left sterile after being exposed in the 1970s to the pesticide known as DBCP.
Jury selection for the first of the lawsuits is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
"This is the first time any case for a banana worker has come before a U.S. court," said Duane Miller, one of the attorneys representing more than 30 Nicaraguan plaintiffs who worked on plantations from 1964 to 1990.
The cases raise the issue of whether multinational companies should be held accountable in the country where they are based or the countries where they employ workers, legal experts said.
A verdict in favor of the workers could open the door for others to file similar claims in the U.S., where juries are known for awarding bigger judgments.
"The administration of justice in developing countries in comparison to the administration of justice in the U.S. -- there's a big gap," said Alejandro Garro, a Columbia University law professor.
"The significance of it is we're talking about a global economy where big business does business all over the world and where we don't have a uniform type of justice," he said
The upcoming lawsuit was filed in 2004 and accuses Dole Fresh Fruit Co. and Standard Fruit Co., now a part of Dole, of negligence and fraudulent concealment while using the pesticide.
Dow Chemical Co. and Amvac Chemical Corp., manufacturers of the pesticide, "actively suppressed information about DBCP's reproductive toxicity," according to the lawsuit.
Attorney Erin Burke, who represents Westlake-based Dole, and Kelly Kozuma, a spokeswoman for Newport Beach-based Amvac, declined to comment.
Scot Wheeler, a spokesman for Midland, Mich.-based Dow, said in an e-mail that the lawsuits were without merit, and that "there are no generally accepted studies in the scientific community of which we are aware which establishes an effect on sterility in banana farm workers" exposed periodically to the chemical.
"Workers bringing these claims rotated jobs often or changed jobs altogether with enough frequency that long-term exposure would have been fairly unusual and it is not likely that there is any injury whatsoever related to DBCP," Wheeler wrote.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Web site says the chemical was used as a fumigant on more than 40 different crops in the U.S. until it was largely phased out by 1979.
Long-term exposure to the pesticide causes male reproductive problems, including decreased sperm count, according to the site, which lists DBCP as a "probable human carcinogen."
In April, all five lawsuits were placed under the jurisdiction of Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney. The legal actions involve claims on behalf of workers from Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Other growers and manufacturers are named as defendants.
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