This morning, Thursday, January 19, Vermont’s Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) approved the Agency of Agriculture’s Pesticide Rules. The approval of these rules was postponed three times by LCAR. Members of Vermont’s Pesticide and Poison Action Network (VT PAPAN) have been attending the LCAR meetings in order to register their concerns with the inadequacy of these rules. Unfortunately, LCAR declined to object to the rules and urge further revision – even though these regulations were inconsistent with and contrary to legislative intent and don’t go nearly far enough in protecting worker and public health and mitigating the harms to wildlife, water, and soil that is posed by the use of these poisons.
VT PAPAN members believe that the Agency of Agriculture cannot effectively regulate pesticides while promoting them at the same time. Furthermore, the public process was undermined by state officials. No Vermont government agency acknowledges the triple synergistic crises of toxic pesticides, PFAS1 contamination, and climate chaos.
Members of VT PAPAN attended the hearing to meet with journalists and share their concerns with the inadequacy of these rules, the first revision in 31 years. The rules are woefully inadequate to protect worker and public health and mitigate the harms to wildlife, water, and soil posed by the use of these poisons.
“The evidence that pesticides are hurting Vermont’s beekeepers and decimating many of the State’s native pollinators is overwhelming,” says Middlebury beekeeper and former Vermont Pollinator Protection Committee member Ross Conrad.
The indicators of the crises are evident across Vermont:
- loss of pollinators of many kinds;
- continuing illness and hospitalizations from viruses;
- bio-accumulative contamination of our water;
- increases in immune system diseases and other illnesses;
- longer summers with longer periods of cyanobacteria blooms;
- PFAS contamination of fish, wildlife, and waters combined with pesticide exposures that combine and cause many illnesses.
Members of VT PAPAN are looking for the following measures to ensure public health and environmental safety:
- PAPAN wants the Vermont Legislature and Agencies to reinstate statutory language mandating pesticide reduction in Vermont.2 At present, Vermont is no longer working toward reducing its pesticide use at a time when it is clear that we must change our pesticide practices. This is urgent and must be remedied immediately.
- We want the legislature and the Agency of Agriculture to require that any pesticides used in our state be certified by an independent lab to be free of PFAS to the extent that PFAS can be tested. Pesticides known to contain PFAS should be banned from use in VT.
“We all know self-regulation does not work in the world of capitalism and profit. The Agency of Agriculture has failed Vermonters for 50 years in monitoring pesticides, reporting on their usage, and in achieving any mandated reductions.It is just ludicrous to keep adding a million pounds of toxin to our landscapes every year hoping that it will just ‘go away.’ Even birds know better than to soil their own nest,” says Mike Bald, Founder and Owner of Got Weeds?.
- We want the VT Department of Health (VDOH) to work closely with the Agency of Agriculture on Pesticide Rules for the State. The fact that the VDOH was not consulted on these rules until December 19, 2022, is disgraceful and shows a lack of important collaboration between agencies.
- Furthermore, the VDOH needs to be more proactive in looking at all laws and regulations in Vermont that have the potential to affect public and environmental health. VDOH appears to be controlled more by politics and economics than by key public health principles. Members want to see the legislators pass legislation that requires that all state agencies and legislators use the Precautionary Principle before enacting rules and legislation. We need a paradigm shift where our government cares more about people and planet and less about profit.
- Finally, members want to see their tax dollars in Vermont government agencies spent on PFAS-free and toxin-free products. We cannot continue to buy products that contaminate our green state.
Marguerite Adelman, Coordinator of VT PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition, states that “Like Governor Whitmer of Michigan and President Biden, Vermont should issue a directive banning purchases of products containing PFAS and other poisons; we need to leverage the state’s buying power to stop companies from using these toxic chemicals.”
VT PAPAN will not be silent, and we are not going away. What we do to our Earth, we do to ourselves.
Marguerite Adelman, VT PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition Coordinator
Mike Bald, Founder and Owner of Got Weeds?
Ross Conrad, Middlebury beekeeper
James Ehlers, Lake Champlain International
Sylvia Knight, South Burlington
Emily Lanxer, Honeybee Steelband, Hardwick
Categories: Press Release