When Susan Trask was 40, she went back to school and earned a
degree in ornamental horticulture at Long Beach City College.
Trask has since worked as a groundskeeper at the college
district, and this year she was elected president of AFT Local
6108, the Long Beach Council of Classified Employees.
The Environmental Protection Agency has said the active
ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and other weed killers is safe
for humans when used according to directions. The World Health
Organization, however, classifies glyphosate as a “probable human
carcinogen” and California lists it as a chemical known to cause
In Watsonville, where teachers have fought for years to restrict
pesticide spraying near schools, a recent regulation issued by
the California Department of Pesticide Regulation was greeted as
a victory, but with serious reservations.
Today, as CFT members joined with coalition partners in
Sacramento to rally for protection from agricultural pesticides
for students, the Californians for Pesticide Reform bestowed an
award on the CFT for its local and statewide efforts to make
schools near fields safer.
At the end of the legislative session, Gov.
Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1405, by Mark DeSaulnier
(D-Concord), requiring safe use and accurate tracking of
pesticides on school campuses. Industry lobbyists previously
blocked two similar pieces of legislation.
Legislators are debating measures to ensure that pesticides at
California schools don’t become a bigger concern than the pests
they are meant to exterminate.
Under Senate Bill 1405, schools that use pesticides must
designate someone to maintain a complete record of all pesticide
use at the site, and submit it to the Department of Pesticide
Regulation at the end of each calendar year. Current law requires
only professional exterminators to report their use.
Teachers at Ohlone Elementary School were greatly relieved
when Arysta LifeScience, a Japanese chemical company, announced
on March 20 that it would no longer sell methyl iodide in the
United States for use as a pesticide.