Helping Our Peninsula's
Pesticide Safety Element Policy for Monterey County's General Plan
Copyright 2004 Helping Our Peninsula's Environment, by
(Permission to use in Monterey County's policies is hereby granted.
Any other use requires written permission.)
Informed Consent Pesticide
In California, all cities and counties are required to prepare and adopt
a "General Plan" and stay within the confines of it. They need to be updated
every 5 years or so. Each General Plan has seven required elements including
Safety. This Plan is intended to be painless for Monterey County, or any
other county, to merely insert into their General Plan Safety Element.
This Plan is intended to be a higher level policy that guides preparation
of a Pesticide Control Ordinance or a Code by defining the scope and limits
of what they must address. It is not intended as a Pesticide Ordinance
or a Code, though it could be used for that.
This model Pesticide Safety Element has four improvements over typical
Pesticide control laws:
Your comments for improvements
It controls what appears at the "nose of the beholder" as opposed to
merely what is emitted by the pesticide user,
It recognizes and limits maximum pesticide exposure impacts,
It recognizes and limits "invisible" and long-term pesticide impacts,
It allows pesticide use, but only when fully informed voluntary consent
is given by all potentially affected parties.
The purpose of this Pesticide Safety Element is to restore, maintain
and sustain Monterey County's overall natural and healthful environment;
to eliminate harmful and annoying unwanted pesticides in and adjacent to
Pesticide Safety Findings
This Plan recognizes that pesticides are designed, created and used
with the explicit intent to kill living creatures and other life. Pesticides
are considered potential "weapons of mass destruction" by the U.S. government
because some have been used in warfare; they can cause harm, nuisance,
annoyance, death and could even cause population extinction of humans and
wildlife. They can interfere with individual and community activities,
cause health harm, and harm property and reduce its value.
Significant Ecological Impacts: Pesticides are known to have unintentionally
killed humans and millions of animals including many individuals of imperiled
species officially recognized by endangered species laws including the
Significant Pesticide Damage: Pesticides can cause cancer, chronic toxicity,
teratogen effects, mutagenic effects, central nervous system effects, cardiovascular
effects, kidney damage, liver damage, peripheral nervous system effects,
immunological effects, gastrointestinal effects, reproductive effects,
embryotoxicity, lung and respiratory effects, endocrine effects, blood
cell disorders, damage to skin and eyes, skeletal damage, allergic sensitization
Significant Harmful Nuisance: Pesticides can interfere with health and
cause work absence due to effects including -- breathing difficulty, nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coughing, abdominal pain, blurred vision,
dizziness, disequilibrium, disorientation, skin rashes, fever, chills,
weakness, exhaustion, fatigue, headaches, memory loss, loss of sequential
thinking, anxiety, voice loss, hearing loss, irregular heartbeat, and loss
Harm at Undetectable Exposures: Pesticides exposures below the level
of detection can cause biological and property damage which may not be
discovered for years or generations;
Harm at Distance / Pesticide Drift: Pesticides are known to have caused
damage up to 50 miles from where they were applied, and regularly cause
damage at two to three miles from where they were applied.
Pesticides harm and kill beneficial species including pollinators including
bees and birds, and pest predator insects including ladybugs and the Syrphid
fly, a predator of the lettuce aphid.
Expensive Benefits Overstated: Pesticides cost farmers about $4 per
pound, $190 per acre (and up to $800 per acre); some nine million pounds
of pesticide active ingredients are applied in Monterey County each year,
yet more U.S. crops are lost to pests, before and after harvest (~37%)
than before widespread pesticide use arose in the 1940's (~31%).
The International Food Policy Institute estimates the environmental,
health and social costs of pesticide use in the U.S. at $100-$200 billion
per year, or $5-10 in damages for every dollar spent on pesticides.
Alternative Pest control practices could halve the use of chemical pesticides
on 40 major U.S. crops without reducing crop yields. Indonesia cut pesticide
use on rice by 65% and yields increased by 15%. Sweden cut pesticide use
in half with virtually no decrease in harvest.
Farmers could raise their average income by about 9% and only raise
retail food prices by about 0.2% by cutting pesticide use in half.
This Plan recognizes that synergistic and cumulative pesticide exposures
can be more harmful than a single pesticide exposure.
For example a one-time application of pesticide in a non-agricultural
area may have few obvious health effects, but synergistic and cumulative
pesticide intrusion exposures can exceed thresholds of harm and significance.
This Plan recognizes that harm and complaints are often caused by short
duration maximum pesticide concentrations rather than lower-level
but more common-place pesticide exposures.
This Plan recognizes that pesticide harm and complaints are caused by
actual exposures rather than a calculated, modeled, or estimated average
pesticide concentration level.
This Plan recognizes each Californian's Inalienable
Constitutional Right to Safety.
This Plan recognizes that there is no right to pollute or cause harm.
This Plan recognizes the fundamental rights of each individual --
To be fully informed of a potentially harmful action before it occurs,
To refuse consent.
Restoration and Protection Actions
Within one year of adoption of this Plan and updated at least yearly
A complete inventory and map shall be prepared of all areas in which
Pesticides are used in the County; and
Physical measurements shall be taken, as opposed to estimates or computer
models, and maps shall be prepared, of transient maximum pesticide concentrations
in air and water for each gaseous or liquid pesticide application in the
Except for disinfectants, for each application the measurements
shall separately electronically record, measure and map all pesticide use
locations in our County for each specific pesticide and for --
The maximum amounts used,
The maximum instantaneous pesticide concentrations at all downwind property
lines before, during and after each application until downwind pesticide
concentrations are no longer detectable.
If this inventory and mapping remains incomplete after one year, no
pesticide application for any property may exceed half of the least number
and smallest applications at that property in the previous five years.
Use Requires Voluntary Informed Consent: To prevent pesticide trespass,
harm, nuisance, annoyance and activity interference to humans, wildlife
and property, no activity, existing or future, is permitted which can
cause any pesticide contact with any party unwilling or unable to give
No Exemptions if Alternatives: Non-toxic alternative solutions must be
seriously tried first. While government agencies are encouraged to educate
the public about non-pesticide alternative solutions, in no case may
government make or coerce the decision to use pesticides or alternatives
on humans, private property or pets.
The following exemptions are allowed only when no non-toxic, less-harmful,
or non-pesticide alternatives exist.
To alleviate a harmful infestation of a person or their immediate living area
by a pest, but only when approved by the person, a parent, guardian, or conservator,
To alleviate a harmful infestation of a pet or their immediate living area,
but only when approved by the owner, and
for indoor disinfectant use.
For example: Steam wands can be used to kill weeds. This leaves
only water. Hydrogen peroxide disinfectants degrade into water and oxygen
after a few minutes. Feasible alternatives to agricultural pesticides which
have been used for centuries include crop rotation, cover crops, timed
planting, crop residue tillage, land fallowing, field flooding, and use
of native biota control such as ladybugs and spiders.
Fully Informed Voluntary Consent: To adequately warn people about the
potential harms to their health, prior to any pesticide use, each person
whose consent is required, must be given a readable and understandable copy of a true declaration
clearly describing all intended maximum pesticide use, times and durations
and all potential harms to their health from the activity. Consent is only
valid when a copy of the declaration is signed by the party affected by
the potential for pesticide trespass. Proxy signatures are not valid.
Jurisdiction Trespass: To eliminate pesticide drift adversely affecting
our area, Monterey County shall encourage avoidance and alternatives to
all agencies and jurisdictions which have control over those pesticide
This Plan is intended to reflect the best available science. Whenever
significantly improved information, alternatives, methods and equipment
become available all policy related to this subject shall be updated
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