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Ventura county residents push to ban toxic pesticide

Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety is putting up a fight to ban a toxic pesticide. It has been a hot topic for years, and one local activist is heavily involved in the reform.

“There are no safe levels of Chlorpyrifos residue that people should be consuming,” said Adam Vega, community organizer at Ventura County Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety.

Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide used on crops, mainly citrus. State environmental officials say the chemical is highly toxic, and could cause brain damage and other health problems in children.

“Chlorpyrifos is from a class of pesticides that was developed during the war,” said Vega. “They were developed during chemical warfare, so these are designed to kill. They found out they could work pretty good on the field. So this class of pesticides is really old and outdated.”

Vega says the pesticide was supposed to be banned back in 2015 through the Obama administration, but the Trump administration rolled back those regulations.

“It is still being used to this day,” said Vega.

Vega says more than 20,000 pounds of chlorpyrifos were used on crops throughout Ventura County in 2016. But that number dropped as more farmers learned more about the product.

“Within the last two years, because of our work we have been able to reduce it to 100 of pounds,” said Vega. “Granted that is a step in the right direction but there is still a concern for the workers as well as the soil in the ground.”

Vega and other local activists took matters into their own hands to ban the chemical.

“Our local coalition, the Ventura County Advocating for Pesticide Safety, we went ahead and educated and informed local residents, farmers and farm workers anyone that would listen,” said Vega. “We went to the board of supervisors, and agricultural commissioners and let them know that this chemical is toxic and should not be used, and that there are alternatives available.”

After a dozen trips to Sacramento meeting with the department of pesticide and even the Governor’s office, progress was made.

“We have been fighting to reenact that ban, and we were most recently successful in getting it stopped come November, and a complete phase out by next year,” said Vega.

KEYT 2019

Article Topic Follows: Agriculture

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