For those of you who joined us at the Rural Caucus and Strategy Session this year, you had a chance to hear one story of community organizing to challenge pesticide spaying. Many of you asked for more information. Here is the story of Standing Together to Outlaw Pesticides (STOP) and details on their county-by-county poster campaign.
When Eron and Justin moved to Triangle Lake in rural western Lane County, they weren’t surprised when Weyerhaeuser clear-cut a nearby mountainside. The real shock came when they watched helicopters dousing the mountainside with pesticides from their sons’ bedroom. You can imagine their surprise when they found that timber companies are not required to notify neighbors when they plan to spray pesticides that drift onto nearby properties, including onto commercial organic farms.
Eron began to do her research. She found troubling studies into the effects of commercial pesticides on the development of children that made it clear that many of these pesticides have not been tested for long-term effects. The citizens of Triangle Lake decided to call chemical exposure expert Dr. Dana Barr to test their urine for pesticides. 41 Triangle Lake citizens collected their own urine samples for analysis. All tested positive for atrazine and 2,4-D in levels so high that the federal Center for Disease Control launched a study to see just how far-reaching pesticide exposure was. Even the local school’s drinking water tested positive for pesticides.
The CDC launched a study in Triangle Lake by announcing what chemicals they would be testing for. The timber companies in the audience took note and stopped spraying those specific chemicals, forcing the study into hiatus.
Because of the Right to Farm and Forest Act, Oregonians have no legal recourse to sue timber companies or the state for the impact on the health of community members, loss of organic certification for organic farms, etc. We need the Governor, the legislature, or a ballot initiative to intervene.
Concerned women from across the state joined together with Eron to form Standing Together to Outlaw Pesticides (STOP), a new ROP member group. STOP has been raising awareness and asking the hard questions: why is rural community health being sacrificed for corporate profit?
After their incredible organizing to pressure the Oregon State agencies, the CDC, and their legislators from every angle, STOP has gotten the Governor’s ear. Now we need to raise a ruckus! STOP wants to make it clear that this is a statewide issue. STOP has kicked off a statewide campaign to call for Governor Kitzhaber to impose a moratorium on aerial pesticide spraying. Here is where each of us comes in!
Participation is simple!
- Gather your local human dignity group, your friends, your kids, or your neighbors in front of your local City or County sign.
- Hold up a poster reading, “Moratorium Now! End the pesticide spraying!” Make your own or follow these instructions to print STOP’s pre-made posters at Staples.
- Take a picture! Check out this photo from Triangle Lake as an example:
- Email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check out the website and watch the map grow!
STOP will collect these photos from across the state and upload it to their website on an interactive map of Oregon, illustrating that Oregonians everywhere have a stake in rural community health and that we are paying attention!
Don’t stop there!
- Sign and circulate the online petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-kitzhaber-stop-the-spraying-of-toxic-chemicals-into-oregon-s-communities
- Print a petition and collect signatures at your group meetings, local events, or put it in a supportive business! Mail completed petitions to STOP at PO Box 375 Selma, OR 97538