Farm Workers Seek Better Health Standards

Jul 16, 2013

Farm workers from Ohio and other statesĀ are on Capitol Hill today to speak with Congressional leaders about the dangers posed by pesticides.

They want the agricultural standards for pesticide use strengthened. Federal statistics show over 5-billion pounds of pesticides are applied to U.S. crops and 10-to-20 thousand farm workers are poisoned each year. Mario Vargas of Toledo is with a union representing farm workers. He says during his 16 years working on farms he has seen the harmful effects.

Vargas says many farm workers poisoned by pesticides cannot afford to get medical care. He says current standards have not been updated or revised for over two decades. He says stronger measures would ensure workers receive information about specific pesticides, require medical monitoring of workers who handle neurotoxic pesticides and require safety precautions and protective equipment limiting worker contact. He says there also needs to be better pesticide training for farm workers.

Operators of large-scale farming operations say the current standards are sufficient, and changing them could mean Americans would pay more for their food.