Exposure to toxic chemicals, known as pesticides, is a rampant issue among farm worker women and their families. These chemicals are often sprayed both onto agricultural crops as well as the farm workers who harvest them while they work. For farm worker women, the issue of being sprayed directly with pesticides renders dire consequences. Women are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of pesticide exposure.
Since 2012, some of the work Alianza has been doing on this issue is the Morralitos campaign. The Morralitos (satchels) campaign was created to raise awareness about the dangers of pesticides. Small satchels represent the ones farm workers use to carry produce picked in the fields. As part of the campaign, farm workers, their families and community members across the country decorate and exhibit satchels to express concern about pesticide exposure, share safety and health messages and demonstrate the impact of pesticides on agricultural communities.
Pesticide exposure causes farm workers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce in the nation. Farm workers are usually unaware of the pesticides to which they are constantly exposed, the related health effects, or the laws meant to protect them.
Alianza has also supported legislation such as The Ban OPs Act and shared their thoughts here and here. They’re also currently involved in litigation with EarthJustice on OPs and you can see info about the case here and here. Some of Alianza’s campesina members have provided detailed declarations of their own experiences being exposed to these pesticides, most recently during legislative advocacy visits that took place during their Convivencia held in Washington, D.C. in the Spring.
Alianza’s Madre Tierra project also has a big focus on sharing and exchanging information about pesticides, including OPs, and the importance to our health and environment to farm without using these pesticides. Some of the experiences and facts that contributed to litigation also comes from the women in this project.
Pesticide exposure remains an issue of injustice in the workplace because farm workers are exposed to pesticides all day long, without the choice or ability to avoid exposure, and often, without a voice in the decisions about pesticide rules and regulations that directly affect the health and safety of their bodies and the well being of their own families upon returning home from a day in the field.