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Ban Paraquat


Paraquat is banned by 32 countries, including the European Union as of 2007, but is legal in the US.

Some almond growers use the most highly toxic herbicide called Paraquat., http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/paraquat/basics/facts.asp. Half-life in the soil can last for 20 years. For example, the almond orchard on Morehead Ave. in Chico uses Paraquat, no warning signs, houses with kids and animals across the street. Others are organic, such as the orchard by the Ranchero Airport. Here’s the industry’s website http://paraquat.com/safety where they also warn of dangers in use.

Paraquat has been related to Parkinson’s Disease.


710 people have signed my petition to pan Paraquat. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/ban-paraquat-herbicide?source=c.em.mt&r_by=4397061

Some of the comments follow:

In February, we visited Chico and stayed in a Bed ‘n Breakfast that was in the midst of almond orchards. The proprietor provided bottled water for us as their well had recently tested positive for pesticides!! It is time to get rid of all highly toxic pesticides

Glad we don’t put anything on our organic almonds! But we live less than 40 miles away from some growers who do!!

Creating toxic herbicides, each one more toxic than the previous, strikes me as not only stupid but self-destructive in the long run. Did you not learn the lessons of DDT and agent orange, etc.

We are poisoning our environment. This is evidenced by the many cancers and neurological diseases that are rampant in Butte and Glenn counties.

We are killing our bees with chemicals and now our kids and ourselves!!!! How clever!!!!

I live in a large farming community and this herbicide is very dangerous. It is too bad and actually quite telling that it is legal for use in the US. The EU banned it in 2007. There have been studies indicating that this herbicide causes neurological disorders among other things. Even though it is classified as restricted use that does not mean that the licensed applicator, in this case the farm owner or supervisor is the person actually applying it to the weeds. Usually it is a farm worker that has not been properly trained. If used in aerial spraying any person or wildlife exposed would be poisoned. You bet I am all for banning this dangerous herbicide. It should not just be banned in residential areas but banned completely in the United States.

I contacted all our local state and federal representatives with no response. Supervisor Maureen Kirk was the only one to do some research on the topic, but decided not to act.

A Butte Country Supervisor emailed me that, “The almond farmers really need to use it for harvest since the ground needs to be bare when they are picking up the almonds. They use it sparingly since it is expensive and has rigid requirements for application. There are no other avenues to kill all of the weeds before harvest.” But this is not true. She also noted that they’re not required to post when they spray.

However, many food producers use non-toxic herbicides: “There are numerous design, management, mechanical and cultivational practices, as well as some plant extracts, that can be used instead of paraquat, depending on the weed species and the situation. http://wssroc.agron.ntu.edu.tw/note/Paraquat.pdf

Butte County Agricultural Commissioner Richard Price noted;

If there are local conditions that may make an application have concerns due to proximity of adjoining property or crops, we will review those concerns with the growers and we will discuss reasonable alternatives at the time of permit issuance or pre-site applications inspections. I would be glad to review this process further with you, if you wish.

Mr. Price originally told Supervisor Kirk and me that Paraquat dissolved immediately like applying hydrogen peroxide, but recanted, emailing, “Here is the response to my information request from the Calif. Dept. of Pesticide Regulation as provided by Najme Minhaj, Phd., Senior Environmental Scientist, Pesticide Registration Branch, 916-324-3899. It shows that Paraquat may be present in the soil for 20 years, but it is unavailable as an environmental or human hazard.”

A Cornell University report said,

Paraquat is quickly and strongly adsorbed by soil particles, especially in clay soil (3 <http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/metiram-propoxur/paraquat-ext.html#3> ). Such bound residues are not available to plants, earthworms, and microorganisms. Because of its unavailability, and its resistance to microbial degradation and breakdown by sunlight, paraquat is long-lived. The bound residues persist indefinitely and are transported in runoff with the sediment. The reported half-life for paraquat in soil ranges from 16 months (aerobic laboratory conditions) to 13 years (field study) (7 <http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/metiram-propoxur/paraquat-ext.html#7> ).

Other County Supervisors are Supervisors are working on Kauai County Council Bill 2491 related to pesticides and GMOs. http://www.stoppoisoningparadise.org/#!bill-2491/c1994

Santa Cruz County Supervisors passed a resolution against methyl iodide used in strawberry production. http://www.gtweekly.com/index.php/santa-cruz-news/santa-cruz-environmental-news/3013-berry-battles.html

The Chico Enterprise Record declined to do a story on Paraquat unless the supervisors discussed it but did print my letter to the edior. The Chico News and Review also declined doing a story but posted my letter online.

Mike Sommers of Pesticide Watch:

I was able to track down this document from DPR
about the powers of the Ag Commissioner.  This clearly states that they
can impose specific requirements for each permit they issue.


Also here is a MSDS for Paraquat 250.  It is quite toxic in acute


Here is the entry for paraquat in PANNA’s pesticide database.  Note that
it is listed as a bad actor chemical because of the high acute toxicity.


Finally here are the couple of studies that I have tended to talk about
when talking about paraquat and PD.  The first one used GIS information
to correlate PD and paraquat/maneb exposure.



Luisa Garza shared these comments and articles about organic almond growing:

DPR= dept. of pesticide regulation- does all testing for pesticide advisors, qualified applicators and qualified certification. They do all regulation of Federal laws and pesticides.

County Ag Commission- does not do testing but they enforce all State and Federal laws; they maintain MONTHLY PESTICIDE USE REPORTS which will monitor the use, amount and which pesticides are being used.

Paraquat is a “RESTRICTED’ chemical, it can only be applied by a licensed pesticide applicator. I haven’t checked the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Paraquat, but I know all RESTRICTED chemicals must legally post a sign about what is being sprayed and if there is a re-entry period in which no one can enter the field within that time frame.
I have a friend who purchased a home that bordered an almond or walnut orchard and had to sign a legal document stating she knew she was purchasing a home on an commercial orchard corridor and that pesticides would be sprayed and that she acknowledge that the orchard was there prior to the neighborhood and that she would not complain about the issues caused by commercial agriculture.

There is a local farmer growing organic, raw almonds, they are Seven Diamonds, and it would be great to invite them to speak.

Raw almonds can’t be sold to stores, I buy them through the Weston A Price Foundation meetings.





This is the leading CA education on agriculture, I haven’t fully explored this site, but these are their recommendations.
Please visit the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) to find updated pesticide fact sheets. <http://npic.orst.edu/npicfact.htm>  If you don’t find a fact sheet related to your question, feel free to call 1-800-858-7378 <tel:1-800-858-7378> . NPIC <http://npic.orst.edu/>  is open five days a week from 7:30am to 3:30pm Pacific Time.

Pesticide is a blanket word for toxins that are broken down into specific categories as following:

  1. Herbicide – kills weeds
  2. Insecticide- kills insects
  3. Rodenticide – kills rodents
  4. Fungicide- kills fungus

From the Ag Commissioner’s Office

StartSelection:0000000199 EndSelection:0000007938 Gayle Kimball,
In response to your e-mail concerning Paraquat. I queried our restricted materials permit program for 2012 and found the following:
·        In 2012 there were 8090 almond sites/orchards in Butte County

·        In 2012, 853 sites/orchards were reported using a chemical with the active ingredient of Paraquat

·        853 is 10.54% of 8090. Paraquat was used on 10.54% of almond sites/orchards in Butte County in 2012. In most cases, paraquat is not the growers first choice of chemicals,

growers use this product as an alternative to control herbicide resistant weeds. When growers apply Paraquat to their orchard, they do not apply it to the entire floor,

the normal procedure is to strip spray and/or spot spray.

·        A query of 2012 pesticide use reports for almonds showed the following herbicide active ingredients as being used in Butte County on almonds.

Brand names in parenthesis are just an example of a brand name for that active ingredient.

 Glyphosate (Roundup)


 Indaziflam (Alion)

 Flumioxazin (Chateau)

 Rimsulfuron (Matrix)

 Oxyfluorfen (Galigan, Goal)

 Sethoxydim – (Poast)


 Pendimethalin (Prowl)

 Glufosinate (Rely 280)

Carfentrazone-ethyl (Shark)

 Oryzalin (Surflan)

 Saflufenacil (Treevix)

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