Children in the Fields: The Facts You Should Know
The Environmental Protection Agency has signaled its intention to review and roll back key protections for children exposed to pesticides in American agriculture.
The rules they wish to dispose of make it illegal for children to handle a class of pesticides so dangerous that handling and exposure could lead to their deaths. Additionally, the EPA is targeting training of those workers who handle pesticides and the ability of farm workers to designate an intermediary capable of explaining what the chemicals are and how they should be handled.
Opponents of the existing pesticide rules maintain that they target and victimize family farms though this is not the case. Family farms are already exempted and if a family wishes to have their children handle these chemicals, that's their business. The rules have been designed to protect the entire population of workers in commercial agriculture, including greenhouse work.
Two million farm workers in the U.S. pick our fruits and vegetables, a half million of these are children. If you want to familiarize yourself with the risks they're exposed to, please look at this timely and important report just released by The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs.