Smart on Pesticides

Farm field with a pesticide warning sign. Photo credit: Tom Grundy / Shutterstock

Pesticides used in Maryland’s crops and food has continually increased over the past years, and the use of more harmful and toxic pesticides has become frequently common.

Maryland lacks a comprehensive tracking system for residents to know more about the impacts of pesticides on their health. Scientists and public health officials don’t have the information they need to study effects, track patterns, or make recommendations to better the health of people.

A growing body of research shows pesticides pose a serious health risk to our children, the Chesapeake Bay, local waterways, and Maryland’s honeybee populations.

70% of all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been altered to be herbicide resistant, causing an increase in the use of pesticides and toxicity towards farmers, children, and the environment. Pesticides have been linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases, ADHD, birth defects, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, neurological and developmental issues, and more. Pesticides also have adverse effects and contamination on drinking water, wildlife, and the Chesapeake Bay.

People have the right to put their health before a company’s profits. The federal report Toxic Contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed confirms the need for more pesticide information in Maryland. California has had a pesticide data base for years, and it has been used to track health impacts on farmworkers, children, and others vulnerable to exposure to chemicals that can have harmful or fatal effect on humans. It is time for Maryland to follow in California’s footsteps to ensure the health of ourselves, our children, and our state.

What is Smart on Pesticides?

Clean Water Action founded the Smart on Pesticides Campaign that works with citizens, farmers, organizations, businesses, researchers and scientists to increase the public knowledge of pesticides, as well as, pass legislation to keep our families, waterways and wildlife safe from pesticides.

Over 65 organizations support this campaign, including the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Friends of the Earth and Maryland Pesticide Educational Network.

The Smart on Pesticides coalition is focused on reducing consumer use and consumption of neonicotinoids – one way is passage of the Pollinator Protection Act. The PPP would limit the use of Neonicotinoids, a common pesticide similar to nicotine that is extremely toxic towards human health and the environment. Neonics are a known factor in the decline of bee populations in Maryland, as well as having adverse effects on drinking water.

Quick Facts on Neonics

  • Linked to declines in honey bees and other pollinator populations, including monarch butterflies & birds.
  • The European Union instituted a 2 year ban on their use to reduce their exposure to pollinators.
  • Maryland beekeepers reporting losing nearly 50% of their honey bee hives in 2013, and 61% in 2014.
  • 1200 peer-reviewed scientific studies confirm 41% of all honeybee colonies died nationwide in 2014.
  • Pesticides have consistently been implicated as a key issue in pollinator diseases, as well as cause changes in bee reproduction, navigation and foraging.

What has Clean Water Action done?

  • Participated in the Pesticide Information and Reporting Workgroup to address need for a comprehensive tracking system.
  • Supported legislation to increase annual registration of pesticide chemicals to further pesticide use research.
  • Worked with the Maryland Pesticide Education Network and many other organizations for the past four years to create a comprehensive pesticide tracking system in the state of Maryland.
  • Built a 66 members coalition.
  • Coordinated sending nearly 9,000 emails to legislators on Pollinator Protection Act.
  • Conducted 50 meetings with legislators regarding the Pollinator Protection Act.
  • Organized over 75 meetings with communities and events to increase outreach for residents’ support of the bill.