Congress Debates Bill to Reduce Pesticide Use in Schools

Congress Debates Bill to Reduce
Pesticide Use in Schools


from Agribusiness Examiner # 135 Dec. 2001

by Al Krebs

A broad coalition, led by members of Congress, called on the Education
Conference Committee to include a provision, passed by the Senate in
June, to protect children from chemical poisons used in schools at a
press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Senator Edward Kennedy
(Dem.-Massachuetts), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions Committee, and Rep. Robert Andrews (Dem.-New Jersey), a
member of the Education Conference Committee, Rep. Rush Holt (Dem.-New
Jersey), an original co-sponsor of the legislation, Jay Feldman,
Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, Gene Harrington, Government
Affairs Director of the National Pest Management Association, Veronika
Carella, parent activists from Maryland, and Lisa Schultz, mother of
two sons who are sensitive to pesticides, voiced their support of the

The legislation, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) of 2001,
sponsored by Senator Robert Torricelli (Dem.-New Jersey), is included
in the Senate's Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, S.1,
which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). There
is no similar language in the House Education Bill.

SEPA grew out of a landmark agreement among groups representing
parents, teachers, health professionals, environmentalists, pest
management professionals and the chemical industry. It provides for
the adoption of school pest management plans and notification and
posting when certain chemical poison applications are used. After
Senate passage, SEPA ran into opposition from House Agriculture
Committee members in a July hearing, though the committee had
previously refused to hold hearings on the legislation or participate
in negotiations this Spring.

"We urge the Education Conference Committee to join with parents,
educators, doctors, and industry representatives to provide for a safe
learning environment," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond
Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
(NCAMP), which represents the public interest coalition. The
legislation requires the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM)
practices that minimize risk to children, utilize safer practices and provide
safety information to parents and school staff when pesticides are used in
the schools. Data show that IPM methods save schools money, according
to supporters.

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