Tuesday, June 18, 2013
For many, it has been an upsetting several months of watching environmental rollbacks being supported by large corporations and our elected leaders, often with great disrespect to those who seek a healthy environment.
Children, like these at play during recess, would be put at risk if the Legislature allows pesticides to be used on Maine school grounds, a letter writer says.
Staff file photo
I wonder how many are now aware that the (LePage) administration is seeking through its agricultural legislative committees to roll back regulations on pesticide notifications, and to restrict new efforts to prevent cosmetic use of pesticide applications on children's school grounds.
Last week during public testimony, we heard the appointed chairman of our Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee take time out to say that he believes the concern about pesticides harming human health is "blown out of context."
He reminisced about using DDT, "spraying with bare hands, wind blowing at me. So far it's worked out OK for me."
It is called ecological fallacy to presume that because no effects are seen in one small group that there are no effects to others.
In the case of DDT, many other animal species are still recovering from its use.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," which also met with fierce denial from both chemical companies and large users of pesticides (including DDT).
Is our current administration seeking that we roll back 50 years, eliminate a neighbor's right to know what is being applied by agribusinesses, and apply expensive cosmetic pesticides on our school grounds?
This is chemical warfare on Maine's children.
Proposed legislation, L.D. 1129, would cripple Maine's Kid Safe Products Act, which protects young children and the unborn from products containing toxic chemicals potentially detrimental to their development and birth.
Reportedly this legislation was written by the chemical industry.
My military career involved toxic chemicals and chemical weapons, which are for the most part just specialized forms of concentrated industrial/agricultural chemicals.
I used to be cavalier about chemical exposure, but after my cancer I look at it differently and more warily.
We must be particularly vigilant to protect our children, whose small bodies concentrate chemical exposure.
Because children are growing and changing biologically, chemicals react differently and more severely in them than in adults.
Our churlish governor, regarding the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), said the worst that might happen is that women may grow "little beards."
This is, however, a serious danger sign, particularly for children and the unborn.
It signals a biological change (hormone disruption) that would likely be magnified and potentially more extreme in growing girls.
Depending on the biology involved, this exposure could, in turn, affect their children and future generations.
BPA is also known to cause effects in males.
Why risk damaging our children, in effect using them as lab rats for the benefit of chemical company profits? Fetuses and children, because of their lower body weight and active biological development processes, are our "canary in the mine" when it comes to toxics.
The good news is that our Legislature defeated the first attack. That attack sought to overturn a ban on BPA used in baby bottles, sippy cups and reusable food and beverage containers.
Let's thank our legislators for representing the people over special economic interests. Now let's kill L.D. 1129 completely.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Laurent R. Hourcle
Changing hearts and minds about gay marriage in Maine
Betsy Smith (executive director of Equality Maine) is correct in planning for another vote on marriage equality for gay and lesbian people in Maine.
And while I believe in marriage for gay and lesbian couples, the goal right now needs to be changing the hearts and minds of people who are unsure about marriage equality.
(Continued on page 2)