Target: Dan Heggem, Acting Division Director of the Environmental Protection Agency
Goal: Create new policies that protect farmworkers from harmful pesticides
Historically, farmworkers have very high levels of exposure to pesticides, but the Worker Protection Standard was created by the Environmental Protection Agency as an attempt to protect farmworkers from harmful chemicals. Recently, however, advocates for farmworkers argue that these standards are outdated and do not properly advise immigrant farmworkers against contact with the pesticides.
Farmworker Justice, an activist group that works specifically to protect farmworkers across the United States, recently spoke out against the Worker Protection Standard that was created twenty years ago, indicating that these standards are not doing enough to minimize exposure to toxins in pesticides. The group states that the current standards do not mandate that enough information about the chemicals is provided to those working in the fields, and therefore farmworkers are unaware of the dangers that they face.
This issue is taken a step further when a language and cultural barrier is introduced — as is the case for many farmworkers in the United States. With so many farmworkers speaking Spanish as their first, or only, language, warnings in English are futile. Even in the case when pesticides have caution labels or other forms of warnings, farmworkers without capabilities in English are not receiving the necessary information.
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently redrafting the Worker Protection Standard to align better with the current dynamics existing in farm working across the United States. Among the changes may be a requirement for bilingual pesticide warning labels, although many pesticide manufacturers don’t support the measure.
By signing the petition below you will be asking the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate bilingual labels under the new Worker Protection Standard so as to protect Spanish-speaking farmworkers from harmful pesticides.
Dear Dan Heggem,
The Worker Protection Standard as it stands is outdated and unprepared to truly protect farmworkers from the hazards of the job. Today, many of our farmworkers are Spanish-speaking and therefore face a language barrier with individuals and products that only use English in communications. Whether or not our farmworkers can speak English, it is still the responsibility of the United States government to ensure the protection of our workers.
I am writing you to ask you to mandate bilingual warning labels on pesticides under the restructured version of the Worker Protection Standard. Allowing farmworkers to receive as much information as possible about the harmful effects of pesticides is a necessary component of supporting these workers and protecting their health. For those who read only in Spanish, providing this information in both English and Spanish will grant them access to the cautionary details that they deserve.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Colin Grey via Wikimedia Commons