Proposed State Study: Pesticides and Other Biocides in Oregon

Local League member Amelia Nestler, Ph.D., with the help of other members of the Washington County Unit, drafted a proposed state study for the League of Women Voters of Oregon on pesticides and other biocides in Oregon. If accepted, the study will explore the positive and negative impacts of how these chemicals are used in Oregon.

Pesticides and other biocides provide numerous benefits and enable our lives as we know them. They prevent invasive species from spreading, preserving our gardens and natural lands. They ensure crops are not overtaken with weeds, providing food security and economic benefits. They prevent drainage ditches from clogging. Flooding can occur when these ditches are overgrown with weeds. They control insects that would invade pantries and other food storage.

However, pesticides and other biocides have unintended impacts as well. Many negatively impact pollinators, like bees. They can attack native species as well as invasive species. Some harm humans. Certain pesticides and biocides are known to have reproductive and developmental toxicity, or are carcinogens.

Unfortunately, once applied, many of these chemicals do not stay put. They can spread to neighboring communities. They can travel through the air and water, migrating with dust and soil. They can hitchhike on clothing, animals, produce, and more.

In order to craft well-informed policies on pesticides and other biocides in Oregon, we must first understand both the positive and negative aspects of pesticide and other biocide use. This study, if accepted, will consider both sides, interviewing diverse perspectives, includes government agencies, farmers, farmworkers, impacted communities, organizations representing the environment, experts on best practices for pesticide use and potential alternatives, and more.

Pesticides and other biocides are used in some of Oregon’s forests and timberland. What are all of the benefits? Are there any unintended negative consequences from this use? Do the benefits outweigh them? Are there other options? If accepted, this study will endeavor to answer these questions.

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