Lawn Care Wars Heating Up in Connecticut
New Video Makes the Case for Organic Lawn Care
Ever since state senator Ed Meyer authored the nation’s first statewide law seven years ago that began to eliminate lawn-care pesticides from around school grounds, Connecticut has been ground zero in a battle with no end in sight.
As hard as we and many others have championed Connecticut’s efforts — calling on other states across America to follow suit and create beautiful landscapes organically — the supporters of the synthetic chemical pesticide industry have relentlessly pushed back with (almost) equal force. As the legislation designed to protect children progressed from grammar schools (2005) to grades K-8 (2007), Connecticut lawmakers have fended off bogus claims that organic maintenance is financially impractical or functionally ineffective.
When the phase-in periods lapsed in 2010 and all schools and daycare centers through grades 8 were forced to comply with the pesticide reduction laws in Connecticut, the rhetoric grew even louder from the pro-chemical bandwagon. This past October the words grew more angry when Kachina Walsh-Weaver of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities accused the anti-pesticide movement of spreading “misinformation” in her widely circulated letter.
“This coalition of municipal organizations, and others, urge you to evaluate the safety, risks and utilize sound science — not get misled by conjecture, sound bites and scare tactics,” she wrote.
That brought a swift rebuke from Doug Wood, who along with Nancy Alderman and others has been at the forefront of the anti-pesticide efforts in Connecticut and also New York, which has banned pesticides around all school grounds. Wood is the associate director of Grassroots Environmental Education, which shares the SafeLawns mission of pesticide reduction through leadership, advocacy and training.
“We take strong exception to your blatantly false statements,” wrote Wood to Walsh-Weaver. “Your accusation is without any merit or basis in fact whatsoever, and impugns the integrity of our organization and all those who support us.”
Wood’s group released a video this week that succinctly makes the case for organics in lawn care. Featuring testimonials from school groundskeepers in Branford and Cheshire, Ct., where fields have been maintained organically for many years, the 90-second piece also strikes at the pro-pesticide groups’ primary argument: that pesticides are safe just because the EPA has approved them.
“EPA registration of pesticides does not mean they’re safe, it means they’re dangerous,” states the video. In fact, says the EPA, no registered pesticide may be assumed to be safe and the organization has sued companies which make false safety claims.
Seven years since the historic law first passed, Wood has seen the strength of the opposition ebb and flow with the same political winds that fire debate in every state. Firmly Democratic — meaning it’s far more likely to favor environmental and health initiatives than a Republican leaning state — Connecticut has thus far held firm against the lawn chemical industry and its allies. This time around, though, Wood is clearly concerned.