Coalition Sign-on Letter to the Mass. State Legislature: Do SOMETHING about pesticides
The NOFA/Mass Policy Committee, in coordination with several coalition allies, has drafted the below sign-on letter as a way to demonstrate widespread support throughout our networks of advocacy groups, movements and other entities concerned about pesticides in Massachusetts.

The letter focuses on three pieces of legislation considered to have the greatest chance of movement this session and which are most likely to draw the largest number of endorsements. We also include with the letter optional “add-on” endorsements for those who want to express support for more aggressive pesticide measures (ie. a full state-wide ban on Glyphosate). In short, we want to get the point across that the legislature needs to do something about pesticides this session, and we’re hoping that if we all say it together, the message will get through!

This letter will be read as testimony at the public hearing of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on November 12th. We encourage all supporters to consider attending the hearing, deliver individual oral or written testimony, and mobilize their networks to do the same. For more information and to coordinate efforts, please contact NOFA/Mass Policy Director, Marty Dagoberto, at marty@nofamass.org.

For details on the hearing (please attend if you can!), please visit: https://www.nofamass.org/policy#hearings


***Please review and complete this form by November 8th to be counted in time for the hearing on November 12th.***


November 12, 2019

Honorable members of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Regarding: Support for H.763, An Act to protect Massachusetts pollinators, H.791, An Act relative to improving pesticide protections for Massachusetts schoolchildren, and S.447/H.776, An Act empowering towns and cities to protect residents and the environment from harmful pesticides, before the Joint Committee On Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture



Dear Legislators,

At a time of climate crisis, rapid insect extinctions, [1] declining bird populations [2] and rising rates of chronic human illness, we must address how the pervasive use of synthetic toxic pesticides in our school yards, our farm fields and our communities contributes to this urgent situation. Every day, along with pollinators and other creatures, we inadvertently eat, breathe, and absorb these toxins through our skin. Research also shows that pesticides harm healthy soil communities, central players in soil carbon sequestration, a critical solution to the climate crisis. [3] We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, call on the Massachusetts State Legislature to take meaningful action to reduce pesticide use in Massachusetts this legislative session.


We know that we cannot rely on federal agencies to protect the American people and ecosystems from the threats of the overuse of pesticides. Under the current administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has moved even closer toward total “regulatory capture” in which the agency serves the needs of pesticide manufacturers rather than protecting the safety of its citizens and the environment. Nowhere has this been more evident than in recent Roundup-cancer trials where Monsanto’s own documents reveal repeated coordination between Monsanto and the EPA and other regulatory agencies to hide the health dangers of Roundup. [4] We are now counting on our state legislators to help us.


We are experiencing an “insect apocalypse,” and one driving force of these declines is the chemical poisoning of our land by neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics). A recent study shows that agricultural land is 48 times more toxic to pollinators than it was in the 1990s, before neonics were introduced. [5] The European Union and Canada have already placed restrictions on neonics, as have Connecticut, Minnesota and Maryland. The Massachusetts legislature must take action to curb the use of these insecticides and, at the very least, take them out of the hands of untrained consumers by passing H.763 this session.


Pesticides aren’t just hurting insects and birds. The World Health Organization considers glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship chemical, RoundUp) to be a “probable human carcinogen” and now more than 18,000 lawsuits are being brought by people who were exposed to it and who now suffer from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Plaintiffs have won the first three lawsuits against Monsanto/Bayer with total awards in the billions of dollars. Germany is the most recent major country to announce it is phasing out the use of glyphosate. Proposed legislation on glyphosate includes H.792, which stops the sale and use of glyphosate in Massachusetts, and S.499, which stops the use of glyphosate on all State-owned/operated public lands. At the very least, the Mass legislature should prevent the use of glyphosate and other toxic pesticides near schools and childcare properties where children are learning and playing by passing H.791 this session.


Massachusetts law currently prevents cities and towns from controlling use of synthetic toxic pesticides within their communities. While residents across the Commonwealth are organizing to reduce or eliminate pesticides and promote organic landcare practices, local democracy is stymied by this outdated law. With the challenges facing aggressive action on pesticides at the state and federal level, the Mass. state legislature should, at the very least, restore the rights of local governments to restrict pesticide use and enable them to protect their residents and ecosystems from toxic pesticides by passing S.447/H.776 this legislative session.


We, the undersigned, call on Massachusetts state legislators to carefully review the pesticide-related bills currently before them and to take action this legislative session in order to reduce the use of toxic pesticides in our Commonwealth. We implore legislators to at least protect children (H.791) and pollinators (H.763) - the most vulnerable and valuable members of our communities - and to restore the rights of our communities to take greater action (S.447/H.776).


Signed,


Marty Dagoberto L. Driggs, Policy Director
Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter (NOFA/Mass)

Ed Stockman, Co-Founder
Regeneration Massachusetts

Jane Winn, Executive Director
Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

Drew Toher, Community Resource and Policy Director
Beyond Pesticides

Elizabeth and Samuel Smith, farmers emeritus
Caretaker Farm (Williamstown, MA)

Deborah L. Habib, Ed.D, Executive Director
Seeds of Solidarity

Ibrahim Ali, Director
Gardening the Community

Jeff Barry, President
Boston Organics

Evan Abramson, Pollination Systems Designer + Planner
LandscapeInteractions LLC (Northampton)

Mary Jones, Western Massachusetts Community Organizer
Toxics Action Center

Jenny Dunning, Founder
GreeNA (North Adams)

William Braun, Farmer
Ivory Silo Farm (Westport)

Liz Wiley, Executive Director
Marion Institute

Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director
MASSPIRG

Peggy MacLeod, Director
Western Mass Pollinator Networks

Desa Van Laarhoven, Executive Director & Co-Visionary
Round the Bend Farm, a Center for Restorative Community

Susan Baker, Vice President, Shareholder Advocacy
Trillium Asset Management LLC

Adrian Gaino, Business owner
Adrian's Atrium

Stephen Frantz, PhD, Principal & Research Pathobiologist
Global Environmental Options

Laura Kelley, President
POCCA Cape Cod

Barbara Passero, Director
Meadowscaping for Biodiversity

James T. Carnazza, President
Full Circle Earth (Beverly)

Renee Portanova, President
The New Garden Society

Kristin Lewis, Owner
Rabbit's Dance (Norton)

Janet Sinclair, Co-founder
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County

Don Ogden, Producer
The Enviro Show

Michael Kellett, Executive Director
RESTORE: The North Woods (Concord)

Priscilla Hutt Williams, President
Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening Inc. (Shirley)

Bryan Moss, Founder
Sustainable Shrewsbury Citizens Network

Sarah Voiland, Farm owner
Red Fire Farm

Kristi Marsh, Founder
Savvy Women's Alliance

Frank Phelan, General Manager
The Living Earth – Natural Foods Market & Deli (Worcester)

Margaret Moulton, Executive Director
Berkshire Grown, Inc.

Deb Pasternak, Executive Director
Massachusetts Sierra Club

Sue Phelan, Director
GreenCAPE

Noli Taylor, Community Food Education Director
Island Grown Initiative

Dan Kittredge, Executive Director
Bionutrient Food Association

Vivian Orlowski, Chair
Great Barrington Agricultural Commission

Helen C. Poynton, PhD
Associate Professor of Molecular Ecotoxicology, School for the Environment at UMass Boston

Emmalie Dropkin, Coordinator
Extinction Rebellion Western Massachusetts (Amherst)

Pam Phillips
Friends of Bees / Watertown Citizens for Peace Justice and the Environment (Watertown)

Peter Lehner, Managing Attorney, Sustainable Food & Farming
Earthjustice

[list of signers updated as of 11/18/19, 7:55 PM]







References

1. F. Sánchez-Bayo, Kris A.G.Wyckhuys. 2019. Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biological Conservation, 232 pp 8-27. <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020>.

2. “Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone: A new study finds steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada.” Cornell University, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2019. <https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/bring-birds-back>.

3. Kendra Klein. 2019. Pesticides and Soil Health. Friends of the Earth. Available online. <https://foe.org/resources/pesticides-soil-health/>.

4. “Monsanto Papers, Secret Documents.” Law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. <https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/toxic-tort-law/monsanto-roundup-lawsuit/monsanto-secret-documents/>. Accessed September 25, 2019.

5. Stephen Leahy. 2019. Insect 'apocalypse' in U.S. driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides. National Geographic. <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/insect-apocalypse-under-way-toxic-pesticides-agriculture/>.
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