Filed under: Ag education, Farm, food safety, safety, science | Tags: Agriculture education, dangerous pesticides, farm, farm workers, food safety, pesticide poisoning, pesticides, safety, science
The headline on a post sent to me by a facebook friend shouts out Did you know that 10-20,000 farm workers are poisoned by pesticides in the U.S. each year? At first I didn’t even pay much attention to the headline as I read through the article. Finding several errors in the body of the posting, I dismissed the whole thing as another overhyped scare story.
But I went back and I realized how crazy that headline was. First off, the author is not even sure if there are 10,000 or 20,000 farm workers poisoned by pesticides, or maybe a number in between, and that is a huge range. Then if you think about it, if this was really happening, the main stream press would be all over it, not just some blogger. Worse still, it’s obvious that this person knows nothing about applying pesticides to farm crops and the laws that cover those applications.
As a farmer, if I want to spray certain pesticides, I have to be tested and licensed every two years to be sure that I know what I am doing. There are some less dangerous pesticides that do not require licensure, and although I use some of those, I choose to be licensed. We are required to keep records of fields sprayed, and in some cases must post the fields to keep people out for a predetermined amount of time. Those that apply pesticides get into a lot of trouble if they do make an application improperly, and improper application is the only way so many people could be poisoned by pesticides.
I find it hard to believe that anyone is poisoned by pesticides being properly applied. That means that if someone is being poisoned by pesticide application, there is someone in big trouble. The fines for such an activity are huge. Manufacturers and salesmen of farm chemicals do not want their products to get a bad name. They work to be sure buyers know what they are doing. They also do not want to be fined and possibly have their business taken away from them.
Now it is possible that some farm workers have been injured by pesticides in the past. There was a time when regulations on who applied, and when they applied, pesticides was not of concern, but that has not been for over 40 years now. Our countries lawyers are very quick to sue people and companies that injure others, and a poisoning by pesticides would have many lawyers drooling over a potentially huge paycheck. So, no, I do not believe that it is possible for this headline to be correct. In fact, I would say it is a complete fiction.
So here’s a tip for you when you see headlines like this. Ask yourself, would a lawyer allow this to happen without taking someone to court? Because if there are farm workers being poisoned on U.S. farms, there is sure to be a lawyer looking for a big paycheck just around the corner. Large companies are juicy targets, and juries tend to hand out large paychecks to those injured and their lawyers.
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