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Farmworker health deserves attention

The dangers to farmworkers from exposure to pesticides in the fields were noted only parenthetically in the May 18 Food article “Is organic farming really better for the environment?” Pesticides poison not only farmworkers in the fields but also their family members from pesticide spray drift. Pesticides can cause skin and eye infections, breathing problems, birth defects in children born to farmworkers and several types of cancer.

The article, which argued for continued pesticide use, discussed the health of the environment and consumers but not needed protections for farmworkers.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently strengthened the Worker Protection Standard to prevent pesticide poisoning on farms, but the keys to its effectiveness will be education, training and enforcement.

Other safety protections are needed. Some pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos, should be banned because of their harm to the environment and humans. More attention should be given to the serious health risks pesticides impose on the people who labor to put food on our tables.

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