Beyond Pesticides Forum – Report Back

On April 18th, Cristina and I both walked into a room at FAMU Law School to be a part of a panel. We were both speaking as representatives of YAYA at the Beyond Pesticides Forum alongside other individuals who work in the farm worker and food sovereignty movement.

Beyond Pesticides is a non-profit based out of D.C. and they work towards protecting health and the environment through science, policy, and actions. The forum they hosted focused on the varying aspects of farming and the effects that pesticides have on both consumer and worker while highlighting organic farmers in the region. The room was full with about thirty people and many more filtered through the different presentation rooms of the event. Afterwards, we even had a chance to eat the provided dinner and speak to other participants at the event.

Our panel’s presentation was dedicated to consumer power within the fair food movement as well as highlighting certain farm worker led campaigns and organizations. The Farm Worker Association of Florida’s coordinator was on the panel as were many other FWAF staff in the audience. They provided insightful information into the variety of community programs and health incentives that the association is carrying out throughout the state in its Pierson, Homestead, Apopka, and Fellsmere offices.

Two other representatives from the Agricultural Justice Project in Gainesville, Florida and the Pesticides Action Network in Oakland, California spoke on their organization’s specific programs that label fruits and produce to not just ensure that they are organic but the workers handling them are treated humanely. For our part, YAYA presented on the differing ways that we support and stand in solidarity with multiple organizations through Florida and out of state.

It goes without saying that there was a lot of information available and I can only imagine how in depth the other presenters in other rooms were going into their topics. Besides the obvious of standing with other individuals whose views and goals align themselves very closely to that of YAYA, both panelists and participants were able to interact with one another and really illustrate the different ways that we can all make decisions as consumers to instill change. In the ninety minutes that we spoke and listened, we never focused solely on the negative effects that pesticides have on the consumer though and opened up discussion so that everyone could be aware of how terrible these pesticides can be for the farm workers who come in contact with them on a daily basis.

Pesticides provide horrible repercussions to farm laborers as can be evidenced by a simple search on the internet (or through the different resources provided by the YAYA website). Many times workers are told they are spraying vitamins or they are not given proper equipment to protect themselves which can result in hazardous results for everyone involved, especially pregnant mothers and children.

We would like to thank Beyond Pesticides for setting up and collaborating with us in having YAYA participate, as well as to the Farm Worker Association of Florida, the Agricultural Justice Project, and the Pesticides Action Network for not only being on panel with us but allowing us to learn more about their respective organizations.

Nataly Azcurra
Orlando YAYA

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