In a March 29 letter, Sean Kerwin questioned whether the city’s pesticide task force was “industry dominated.”
As the citizen advocate appointed to Portland’s Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force, I can attest that the group – in both representation and weight given to members’ proposals – was dominated from start to finish by the four pesticide applicators.
Charging it with reviewing South Portland’s recently approved organic pesticide ordinance, the City Council convened a task force without a single expert in organic land care. Instead, the task force included four pesticide applicators (one-third of the seats and only one a city resident). All four represented their businesses, and all are associated with the pro-pesticide industry group Mainers for Greener Communities. The group’s lobbyist is former Mayor James Cohen, a law partner of Councilor Spencer Thibodeau.
Mainers for Greener Communities has worked for years to stop citizen-led municipal pesticide ordinances efforts around the state. Maine is a national leader in this worldwide movement, with communities as diverse as Coplin Plantation, Ogunquit, Rangeley, Harpswell, Limestone, Rockland and Wells adopting pesticide restrictions. Efforts to restrict pesticides are underway in Falmouth and York.
Most of Canada restricted the sale and use of conventional lawn care pesticides years ago. This year, France started rolling out its own ban of landscaping pesticides.
For more than a decade, Portland residents have asked the City Council to protect us from the evidence-based risks of pesticide use. The solution is easy: Reject integrated pest management lawn care and adopt an organic land care ordinance at least as strong as South Portland’s.
Not only will this protect our residents, visitors, pollinators and waterways, it will also mean a higher standard of living and another reason why people will want to visit and make their homes in Portland.
Avery Yale Kamila