A roundup of pesticide drift coverage: Who should pay for unruly spray?
Chemical standoff: Farm country residents mostly "grin and bear it" when pesticides from neighboring farms drift onto their property, but some are speaking out. In Illinois, a vineyard owner tires of watching clouds of 2,4-D engulf (and kill) his grapes when a nearby farm sprays. A retired minister gives up on raising Peregrine falcons after pesticide drift kills all of the embryos he'd bred. Another resident watches his two kids be hit with a poison cloud and is unable to get the spray company on the phone to determine what pesticide had been used. (Hours later, calls from a state legislator get through: it was an aerially-applied fungicide.) Some Illinois residents are looking to model legislation in Maine that requires farmers to issue a public notice at least 24 hours before they plan to spray. So their neighbors can book a hotel room in the next town? (Peoria Journal-Star)
Aerial spraying, an application method more likely to cause drift, is on the rise (ha!) along with fungicide use in the Midwest. BASF, which controls about 70% of the corn fungicide market, has sowed fear of fungal diseases spreading from the South and touted fungicide's yield-enhancing abilities. As much as 20% of Illinois' 12 million corn acres are now being aerially sprayed with fungicide, even though the southern diseases don't seem to be able to survive northern winters. [Climate change will take care of that soon enough!] Spray drift - or, as a Sierra Club spokeswoman calls it, "toxic trespass" - is thus a growing concern. Meanwhile, ag economists wonder if the $24-an-acre price tag for fungicide is worth the generally negligible benefits. (Peoria Journal-Star)
On the other side of the Pacific pond, conventional Aussie farmers are "taking a stand" against organic farmers whose non-use of chemicals, they say, contributes to locust and other pest infestations that can drift onto their property and cause damage. "Conventional farmers are happy to live side by side with organic farmers but it shouldn't be at their cost," says one District Council chairman. The local farming association is voting on a motion that would grant farms organic certification only if all of their neighbors were informed first. [It's unclear what would happen if the neighbors opposed the certification.] It would also require buffer zones, which are installed to protect organic farms from their conventional neighbors' pesticide drift, to be located inside organic farms' acreage. (Sydney Morning Herald)
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