MOFGA advocates for policies that reduce all farmers' and homeowners' reliance on pesticides, and all citizens' exposures to pesticides in their diets and in the air and drinking water. We believe that the dramatic increases since the 1950s in childhood and adult cancer rates, as well as immune system and reproductive abnormalities, are directly related to the toxins that increasingly contaminate our environment. Pesticides are the only toxins that humans deliberately manufacture and spread in the environment -- at a rate of millions of pounds of active ingredients every year in Maine alone.
|Photo reproduced by permission from Vaillancourt, L.J., and J.R. Hartman. 2000. Apple scab. The Plant Health Instructor. DOI: 10.1094/PHI-I-2000-1005-01.
MOFGA vigorously promotes creative approaches to pesticide reduction. In 1990, MOFGA earned the first National Environmental Achievement Award for Food Safety by successfully proposing the first state "country of origin labeling" legislation for produce. In 1997, the organization drafted and advocated for "An Act to Reduce Reliance on Pesticides." This act would have instituted an effective system of pesticide sales data collection, while mandating a 33% reduction of pesticide use in the state by 2002. Although the legislation that passed was far weaker than MOFGA's proposal, it did, for the first time, declare a state policy requiring all branches of government to minimize pesticide reliance, and called for a state system of pesticide sales reporting.
MOFGA's efforts led to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-funded survey of pesticide use in all Maine schools, and to a pilot program to promote the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans for each of these schools. This revealed that most Maine schools applied pesticides illegally, with untrained and unlicensed custodial staff. The survey led to a stakeholder process to develop a comprehensive regulation for implementation of integrated pest management and notification procedures for pesticide use in Maine schools and on Maine school grounds. MOFGA played a leading role in this process. The regulation, ultimately adopted with broad-based support, was a major step forward in protecting Maine's children from exposure to pesticides. The regulation formed a foundation for the provisions of Governor Baldacci's Executive Order, implementing IPM in State office buildings and grounds. MOFGA's efforts also led to the adoption of IPM and pesticide notification policies by the Acadia Hospital, one of the leading psychiatric institutions in the Northeast. The BPC distributed a copy of the Acadia Policy to all Maine hospitals, urging them to adopt similar policies.
In recent years, MOFGA has advocated for strong amendments to Board of Pesticides Control rules on pesticides drift, as well as the passage of a pioneering law on mandatory pesticide spray notification. Maine briefly had a spray notification registry for all citizens concerned about aerial and air carrier spraying in their communities. Sadly, the Maine Legislature, at the behest of the pesticides industry, has suppressed our access to information about nearby pesticide spraying. MOFGA will continue to advocate for the public's right to know about the hazardous agricultural chemicals that are being sprayed throughout Maine.