Farmworkers and White Collar Crime Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Simple procedures can help, but not eliminate drift issues, and are quite low tech. First, depending on the wind and time of day, close the windows that face the field or prevailing wind. Add a fan to create a backdraft by pulling air through the home in the opposite direction of the drift. Once the spraying is done and the drift settled a bit, hose down nearby bushes, windows, the roof and outside of the house. At any signs of exposure, wash eyes with clear water and try to shower several times to remove as much of the potential chemical contamination as possible

Publicize -- Certainly public strikes, marches, and visible actions bring public scruitiny into the issue. Because a great deal of the problem lies in the California agricultural region, an organization was formed as a type of State and national clearinghouse for action, information, and change. This organization, Californians for Pesticide Reform, wishes to improve and protect human health, act as a proponent for suistanable agriculture, and improve environmental quality. They also wish to build a strong, multi-racial conglomoration that will change statewide, and eventually national, policies and practices regarding pesticide drift (Reform, 2010)

Document -- Working with the Pesticide Action Network of North America, and supplemented with mini-grants from numerous Latino action groups, ordinary citizens in these towns and camps near fields are working to take regular air samples from various parts of the town; document these results, and then submit to the University of California, Berkeley, for analysis. The residents also note wind direction and approximate speed, as well as any symptoms they notice on particular days. While the EPA has no official federal standards regarding acceptable levels of drift, most activisits believe that scientific papers published by peer reviewed academics will carry more weight once enough data is collected. An additional challenge, though, is that the vast majority of many of the active chemicals in modern pesticides, sometimes over a thousand, have not been assessed and studied in any scientific manner. Testing, notes one EPA official, was never designed to identify problems in extremely small parts per million that have drifted several miles based on weather and wind speed (Clarren, 2008).

Historical Basis for Worker's Gaining Improvement in Safety Conditions -- Interestingly enough, there have been two rather popular motion pictures that were based on actual cases in which members of the public were exposed to toxic chemicals simply because of the location of their homes. A Civil Action (1998) based on a book of the same name told the story of environmental pollution that took place during the 1980s in Woburn Massachusetts. Essentially, a company dumped trichlorethylene (an industrial solvent) into the ground, which contaminated the local aquifer. Health problems, especially cancers, were far higher statistically in the area. While the partent company eventually settled, a later EPA report concluded that the company accused had, in fact, contaminated the wells. It took almost a decade, though, for this matter to work its way through the courts (Harr, 1996). Similarly, and again showing the tremendous time and resources that corporations can use to deny and defray legal redress, Erin Brokovitch (2000) based on the true story of an American legal-clerk who, despite lacking a formal education, was instrumental in helping to construct a 1993 case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California finally resulting in a $333 million settlement (Brockovich, 2003).

These are but two of numerous stories in which workers or citizens have attempted to defy the establishment and work to change laws regarding environmental or safety hazards. Unfortunately, the record shows that it takes a great deal of time, patience, and often money and backing, to even hope to triumph in one of these cases. In the case of pesticide drift, specifically, it appears that two things have the best chance of changing the current lack of legislation: proof from academic scholarship that drift and minute portions of pollutants has a negative effect on humans, and; continued public pressure and activism bringing the problem to light and focusing on the issue as a human problem affecting everyone near fields, not just migrant workers.

Works Cited

Verification of Pesticide Drift Reduction Technologies. (2007, August). Retrieved June 23, 2010,


Farm Workers and Allies Ask Government to Protect Kids. (2009, October 14). Retrieved June

25, 2010, from United Farm Workers:

Pesticide Drift in Florida: School Children Still at Risk. (2009). Retrieved June 24, 2010, from Panna.Org:

Agency, E.P. (2009, December). Pesticide Spray and Dust Drift. Retrieved June 24, 2010, from

Brockovich, E. (2003). Take it From Me. New York: McGraw Hill.

Clarren, R. (2008, July). Pesticide Drift. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from

Cox, C. (1995, Spring 15:1). Indiscriminately from the Skies. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from

Harr, J. (1996). A Civil Action. New York: Vintage.

McCauley, Anger, Keifer, (2006). Studying Health Outcomes in Farmworker Populations

Exposed to Pesticides. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(6), 953-60.

Reform, C. f. (2010, January). Mission Statement and Platform. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from

Womach, J. (2006, June 16). Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws. Retrieved June 24, 2010, from CRS Report for Congress:

Zahm and Blair. (2001). Assessing the Feasbility of Epidemiologic Research on Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers: An Overview. American Journal of Ind. Medicine, 40(5), 487-9.

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