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December 04, 1986 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-12-04

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Page 4

Thursday, December 4, 1986

The Michigan Doily

Edien mgdant M
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

The poisoning pestacides

Vol. XCVII, No. 64

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor. MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

Seeping problem

severe hazard to the people and
environment of Michigan. Solu -
tions require enforcement of federal
and state laws regulating toxic
waste disposal and storage. Yet,
neither have been intense nor
effective enough to produce ac -
ceptable results. Michigan is home
to some of the worst toxic waste
problems in the nation; only New
York and New Jersey claim to have
more. The Michigan Department
of Natural Resources listed at least
1,200 toxic waste sites in the state
which pose actual or potential
threats to local populations. The
state has 1,000 known or sus -
pected cases of groundwater con -
tamination by toxic substances.
This is particularly disturbing since
nearly one-half of Michigan's
drinking water is groundwater.
Contamination by toxic chemicals
results from a number of activities,
most of them related to industry.
Discharges from industrial and
municipal complexes pollute the
local environment and, carried by
wind currents, also contaminate
areas many miles away. In ad -
dition, disposal of toxic waste in
landfills and storage facilities
results in leakage over time.
Two laws, one federal and one
state, are the primary means of
rectifying toxic waste problems in
Michigan. Both the federal Super -
fund Act and the Michigan

Environmental Response Act are
funded by tax revenues. Govern -
ment officials admit that it will cost
billions of dollars to clean up toxic
waste sites in Michigan alone.
Tax revenues just barely cover
testing and evaluating costs,
leaving little, if any, money for
actual clean-up. Michigan has 59
sites on the federal Superfund
list-only one has been cleaned-
Legal actions and penalties are
levied by state and federal officials
against violators of hazardous
waste laws. Negligent companies
accept the weak penalties, most
often in the form of fines, and are
not encouraged to cease their illegal
activities. To a mutli-million dollar
industrial corporation, as many of
the violators are, fines are not very
Individuals within companies
should be charged with criminal
offenses regarding toxic waste
violations, rather than the company
as a whole being prosecuted.
Companies are more susceptible to
change when their employees and
infrastructures are affected than
when they are confronted as a unit.
The fines and financial penalties
levied against violators should be
stiffened andt increased. The
money collected would serve to
alleviate the burden of clean-up
costs from the taxpayers and put on
those who are the source of the

By David Austin
The United Nations World Health
Organization conservatively estimates
that 500,000 farm workers are poisoned
every year through direct contact with
pesticides. That is, at least once a minute
someone is poisoned. Yet the use of
dangerous pesticides continues to
increase, both here and abroad.
Farm workers in the United States are
protected by laws that regulate what
pesticides can be used and in what
circumstances. In spite of this, the
United Farm Workers' union (UFW)
estimates that 300,000 workers are
poisoned annually and a Federal task force
recently reported that half of the nation's
five million agricultural workers risk
becoming seriously ill, perhaps fatally, in
the normal course of their work. Clearly,
there is a great danger posed by the
indiscriminate use of pesticides. Yet,
when the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) decides whether or not a
chemical is too toxic to be used, it does
not take into account the close contact
field hands have with pesticides. Instead,
it assumes that farm workers only absorb
the small amounts of pesticides found in
foods. Furthermore, the laws that do
protect farm workers are not always
enforced. The UFW has documented
numerous cases in which workers were
sprayed with pesticides while in the fields
or were forced (through threats of losing
their jobs) to work in fields that had just
been sprayed. For example, on August 5,
1985 a migrant worker named Juan
Chabolla was ordered to work in a tomato
field near San Diego, CA that had just
been sprayed with the pesticide Monitor.
After complaining about the fumes, he
collapsed and later died without receiving
medical treatment. In another incident, a
farm worker named Zacarius Ruiz sprayed
the pesticide Dinoseb on a cotton field in
Texas. Because the sprayer leaked and he
wore no protective clothing, Ruiz
absorbed the chemical through his skin
Austin is a LSA freshman

and became ill. At a local hospital he
was given asprin, which compounded the
illness. He died a few hours later.
Those are just two of many
documented incidents in which existing
regulations were either inadequate to
protect workers or not followed by
growers and enforced by the EPA.
The situation of workers in the Third
World is, if anything, worse than that of
their counterparts in the U.S. This is
because pesticides that are banned here and
in Europe due to health risks are still
manufactured and exported to Third World
countries. Most of these countries have
few, if any, regulations on the use of
pesticides. For example, DDT, which
was banned in the U.S. in 1972, is still
used in many countries to fight malaria
and on crops like cotton. In Mexico,
food growers insist that there are no
regulations on pesticide use and that they
can use whatever they want however they
want to. In Columbia, government
officials admit that they have neither the
information nor the resources necessary to
adequately regulate pesticide use. In
conditions like this, workers around the
world run a very high risk of being
poisoned, in many cases for crops that
they do not benefit from-crops like
cotton, coffee, peanuts, and beef that are
exported to the U.S. and Europe.
We should be concerned not only with
the dumping of dangerous pesticides in
the Third World, but also with the crops
that are grown there and exported to us.
According to the General Accounting
Office (GAO), one-third of the produce
imported from Mexico contains illegal
pesticide residues. Yet, while the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) tests
every food shipment for cosmetic
appearance, it checks only one in fourteen
shipments for pesticide residue. In
another report, the GOA revealed tlat
FDA testing methods could not detect
178 pesticides for which toxicity levels
have been set, nor could it assure
consumers that imported food was free of
130 pesticides for which levels have not
yet been set. Under such circumstances,
it is almost impossible to know how

much of our food is contaminated and to
what extent.
Consumers should not assume that
food grown in the U.S. is safe eithert
Permissable toxicity levels in food are set
by the EPA after testing on lab animals.
However, such experiments are short
term, acute tests. The effects of long
term, chronic exposure to pesticides are
not known, so what risk do we face by
ingesting small amounts of pesticides
every year, for years on end? Nor are
EPA toxicity levels established totally
objectively. By law the EPA is required
to balance social and economic effect4
with health and environmental risks when
establishing such levels. Thus, the
profits of agribusinesses and chemical
companies are balanced against the health
of farm workers and consumers. How
great a risk are we willing to take? How
many cases of cancer are acceptable?
How many deaths?
There is no doubt that pesticide use
can be beneficial-for quick, intensiv
farming and for increasing immediat
profits. But the risk to farm workers,
consumers and the environment is too
great to be ignored. And there are natural
alternatives to pesticides that have
successfully controlled pests without
reducing yield and at equal or less cost
then that of pesticides. Because of this
we should decrease our use of chemicals
and turn to safer methods of pest control.
We can support such methods b4
educating ourselves and others about the
dangers of pesticide use. We can pressure
Congress for a ban on the manufacture
and export of chemicals that have been
proven to be dangerous, like DDT, and
for stricter regulations concerning
pesticidecuse and worker safety. And we
can support organic farmers by directing
our purchasing power to organizations
like Wildflour Bakery and the People's
Food Co-op. If consumers refuse tc
support dangerous agricultural practices
by buying organic foods, pesticide
practices will be changed. However, if
we continue to support them, they will
not be changed. We can and must act
now, before we do more damage to our
bodies and the environment.

4t I
r ---

Promises or progress?

professed goal of the University
has been increased minority
enrollment. Figures released in
mid-November indicate that the
University has made progress
toward this goal. Unfortunately,
the progress has been uneven, with
{ some minority groups increasing
enrollment far more than others.
Much of this problem stems from
the University not doing enough to
retain minority students.
The minorty enrollment figures
have been heralded as a triumph by
University administrators because
they show an increase in overall
minority student enrollment from
12.0 to 12.7 percent. This results
primarily from a 0.5 percent
increase in Asian student
enrollment. The University
deserves praises for its success in
attracting and retaining Asian
This success masks an overall
failure however. Black enrollment
at the University is only 5.3
percent, well below the
University's goal of 10 percent and
an increase of only 0.1 percent
from last year. Enrollment of
Hispanic student students increased
only 0.2 percent and Native
Americans decreased 0.1 percent
this year.
In order to increase minority en -
rollment across the board, not just
among Asian students, the
U niversity nn~f e toimnrnvP

defined as the percentage of
students obtaining degrees in six
years. One reason that Asian
student enrollment has increased is
the fact that their retention rate is
high. Associate vice-president for
academic affairs Niara Sudarkasa
aknowledges the need to provide
strong support services to retain
minority students. Low retention
rates indicate that she is not
succeeding. It is important that
Sudarkasa, or her replacement after
she leaves at the end of the year,
finds a way to implement these
services more effectively.
If retention were increased,
overall enrollment would be
positively affected. Despite
decreasing black enrollment
nationwide, this year's freshman
class has the highest number of
black students since 1983. If the
University can become more
accepting and supportive of
minorities, perhaps there will a
high percentage of black and
minority students graduating in
In 1983, the University
publically committed itself to
increasing minority enrollment.
One way the Unversity can show
the sincerity of this commitment
would to make an effort to find a
replacement for Sudarkasa who has
definite plans for increasing both
retention and recruitment. By doing
this the University will both
broaden opportunities for
minorities and broaden the

i!j ::..
« rr .. / a


WI) WHfERE lf';5,#j !"


Male stereotypes victimize men too

To the Daily:
We have a problem in our
society. It deals with the
perpetuation of a rape culture
ideology unto our social mores
and values. . Rape culture, as I
understand it to be, deals with
the concept of male dominance,
and how best to express it.
The degrees of expression
varying from simply acting

only be alleviated if we all can
critically examine our own
attitudes about society.
We examine our issues
through the use of classes,
workshops and especially
through the media. The Daily
does an effective job of
providing the University with
social comment on the current
lack of values in our society.

are used. Its sad that her
conclusion is true of society,
but it is not indicative of it.
All men are not out on the ego
trip of Rambo-ism or afflicted
with the mental deviation that
causes rape in our society. A
lot of us may talk a mean
game, but look a little deeper
past the window dressing and
you will find more decent

people from a variety of
backgrounds and I can't think
of any one who fits what you
describe. I'm not saying thtat
they don't exist or that they are
a small minority, but what I
am saying is that I and many
others are continually blamed
for the sins of a few and I'm
tired of it.
The nrohlem exists Ad


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