Pesticide notification is common courtesy

By VillageSoup editorial board | Jun 02, 2011

While Mainers are known for valuing their privacy and independence, those values can only be preserved if we also respect the rights of our neighbors.

LD 228, An Act To Revise Notification Requirements for Pesticides Applications, would repeal the current law that provides for a notification registry for those who want to be told when pesticides are being applied near their property.

Currently, Maine's Aerial and Air Carrier Pesticide Spray Notification Registry has more than 1,800 registrants. The vote to accept committee action recommending the end of the registry passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 81 to 68, with one member absent.

According to the website at maine.gov/agriculture/pesticides, the state's notification registry is for people who want to know about pesticide applications made near their property.

Once on the notification registry, participants can expect to receive advance notice of applicable pesticide applications made within the designated distance from their property.

By their very definition, airborne chemicals can travel wherever the wind goes. It is not only discourteous to apply pesticides without telling one's neighbors, it can be downright dangerous for those residents who are sensitive to chemicals that are specifically designed to disrupt the biological processes of nature.

Pesticides can't distinguish between their intended targets and innocent bystanders. While we hope all licensed and unlicensed applicators will take the responsibility to give people adequate notice, the state must also take responsibility to protect children, the elderly and others who may be harmed by this activity.

We join with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition in calling on citizens to contact their state senators, to urge them to vote against this dangerous measure.

Barring a complete rejection of LD 228, elected representatives can support an amendment introduced by Rep. Jim Dill, D-Old Town, and Sen. Elizabeth Schneider, D-Orono, which MOFGA calls, "a good compromise that addresses concerns of all stakeholders."

According to the website at mainelegislature.org, this amendment would direct the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, Board of Pesticides Control to amend its rules governing the distance from an application of pesticides within which a person is entitled to receive notification of the application, by establishing "a distance of 1,320 feet if pesticides are being applied using aircraft and 500 feet if being applied using air-carrier equipment from a sensitive area within which a person is entitled to receive notification of the application."

"The amendment also requires the Board of Pesticides Control to amend its rules to specify that the board is responsible for notifying individuals listed on the Maine Pesticide Notification Registry of applications of pesticides unless the entity that is applying the pesticides notifies the board in writing that the entity will notify the individual," the state's website says.

Interested citizens are encouraged to contact their legislators through the website at maine.gov/legis/, or by leaving a message on the House of Representatives message line at 800-423-2900.

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