Community organizers in the Salinas Valley have long begged for a ban on chlorpyrifos, as study after study has tied the widely-used pesticide to brain damage in children. So when California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation announced this month that it’s taking legal action to ban chlorpyrifos across the state, those campaigning for pesticide reform in the region felt that their work was finally paying off.
A year after environmentalists lost a regulatory battle to keep the controversial pesticide methyl iodide off the California market, they appear to be winning the ground war against the chemical. Only six California growers have used methyl iodide—marketed as Midas—to zap soil borne pests and weeds before planting crops like chile peppers, strawberries and walnut trees.
Fresno State, located in the heart of industrial farming country, finally embraces organic farming. Their students need knowledge of organics to compete for jobs – but their introduction of these classes coincides with big cuts to state colleges’ budgets. Will organic training survive the budget crunch?
Sitting before a panel of legislators, a Santa Cruz area farmer recently compared the potential fate of California’s strawberry industry to the current state of American automakers. He argued that if agriculture doesn’t innovate, it faces a bumpy road ahead. And, he argued, that the decisions of regulators today will create the roadmap for the future of farming. It’s no easy task–the direction of the state’s agriculture system is at stake. One set of choices sets us down the road of producing food that continues to poison humans and contaminate our soil, water and air; the other turns a corner to widespread adoption of methods that, though they are more sophisticated and foreign to most conventional growers, produce safe and healthy food for all.