Pesticides are a public problem

Legislation would make pesticide users accountable to the public and environment.

The Minnesota Legislature is being pressured to pass a bill that would require farmers and pesticide application companies to make public all chemical spraying records. The bill, similar to those in 27 other states, would be an economic burden on small spraying companies, but ultimately a good thing for the public.

Although companies who spray on a lower level would be forced to reorganize internal operations, spray records are already mandatory in the state. It would require more of an organized focus on what compounds are being put into communities under what conditions. The bill would also mandate that the state make all records public for use by doctors treating victims of pesticide poisoning and residents of regions where pesticides are heavily used.

Information made public always requires more effort from companies, both in management and financial departments. And recent reports regarding the status of pesticide levels in national parks and Great Lakes areas and their health implications are creating a need for this sort of transparency.

A 6-year federal study shows that pesticides, heavy metals and other air-borne contaminants are prevalent in national parks. The study found evidence of 70 contaminants in 20 parks, which has mutated fish and made them unsuitable for human consumption.

The study shows that even remote areas are affected by the vast amounts of chemicals dumped on water, over fields and into the air. Legislation that allows the public to have full access to what pesticides are being put into the air would make companies more accountable for their spraying habits and hopefully reverse over-spraying and using dangerous compounds at high levels.

The Legislature should support a bill that looks to support a broader national need for accountability and information regarding the effects pesticides and pollutants have on our communities and ecosystems.