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Farm Workers Call on Washington for Better Protections


Apopka farm workers are among those in Washington this week demanding greater protections from pesticides. Farm worker advocates said safety standards for pesticide use haven't been updated in more than 20 years, and it's estimated as many as 20-thousand workers are poisoned every year.

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[A Florida farm worker harvests strawberries]

Farm workers are meeting with members of Congress, government agencies and members of the Obama administration to push for stronger Environmental Protection Agency worker protection standards.  Jeannie Economos is the Farmworker Association of Florida Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator.  She said farm workers routinely suffer rashes, blisters, stinging eyes and  even blindness, with some suffering long term debilitating illnesses like Parkinsons. “It’s heartbreaking to hear the stories. They tell us all the time about being in the field, being in the greenhouse, being in a nursery and having someone spraying right next to them, or very close to them, even though it’s in violation of the regulations to do so,” Economos said.

Along with better protections, farm worker advocacy groups are calling for Spanish translations on pesticide labels and for better tracking of pesticide related illnesses. Economos said farm workers seldom report pesticide safety violations because they’re worried about losing their jobs.

 

 

 

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