Pesticides are not the only optionCalifornia has released a statement (November 5, 2021). California is once again proving its environmental leadership reputation. designed to catalyze near- and long-term climate action through focused attention on the state’s natural and working lands, and on nature-based solutions. The draft was announced by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA). draft strategy documentMid-October Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy that the state’s 105 million acres can “sequester and store carbon emissions, limit future carbon emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future climate risks.” The agency also notes that the plan would secure food and water supplies, improve public health and safety, and forward equity. It has. In the announcement, CNRA asserts, and a coalition of California (and national) nonprofit advocates is delivering — soon issuing a letter that calls on the agency to include, in the plan, ambitious targets to move the state’s agricultural sector away from the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides will also sign the letter.invited public commentThis “natural and working lands” document
California’s will informThe 2021 State Adaptation Strategy — master documents guiding the state’s climate action during the coming years. 2022 Scoping Plan, “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . . . Reduce emissions in transport, industry, and buildings As the document notes not enough to avert catastrophic climate change — lands must be part of the climate solution.”[sic]Signers of the advocacy letters (which can also be accessed)
) to be sent by the coalition to Secretary Wade Crowfoot of CNRA include Pesticide Action Network, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Center for Biological Diversity, Physicians for Social Responsibility (Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay), Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club California, Comité Pro Uno, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council, SoCal 350 Climate Action, 350 Humboldt, Moms Advocating Sustainability, Science and Environmental Health Network, and many others.hereThe draft planning document was informed via a variety public input opportunities (regional workshops questionnaires and advisory panels), and it:
• defines California’s eight natural and working landscapes*
describes how these landscapes can advance progress on the state’s climate goals
Highlights priority nature-based climate solutions
Explores regional and climate-smart land management opportunities
outlines nearly 200 opportunities to scale climate-smart land management across the state’s regions and sectors
This report identifies the best ways to track and measure progress in nature-based climate action
* The eight landscapes are: forests. shrublands and chaparral, developed lands, wetlands, seagrasses and seaweeds, croplands, grasslands, and sparsely vegetated lands.
In generating this strategic plan, CNRA acted on Governor Gavin Newsom’s October 2020 nature-based solutions
, Executive Order N-82-20Gather all the relevant state efforts under one cohesive strategy. To advance land management measures to achieve carbon neutrality, help climate-vulnerable communities, improve safety and public health, and increase economic opportunities, which sought to: “Once again, California is taking on the mantle of global climate leadership and advancing bold strategies to fight climate change. It is clear that we must not only build on our past efforts in energy and emissions but also focus on our lands in the ongoing fight against climate change. California’s beautiful natural and working lands are an important tool to help slow and avert catastrophic climate change.”Governor Newsom commented on the draft strategy have come from multiple state officials from the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
Endorsements of the plan: “It is important that we look at the ways in which our farmers and ranchers can help protect the environment as they produce the crops and livestock so integral to the health, well-being, and livelihood of Californians.” A laudable sentiment, but as the advocacy coalition points out, “The draft Strategies do not go far enough in setting ambitious targets that would transition our agricultural systems away from toxic pesticides and towards safer and more climate-friendly alternative agricultural systems like agroecological and organic agriculture.”A comment from Karen Ross, secretary of CDFA, includes thisIndeed
, though well intended, is very general and often, too anodyne to leverage meaningful “on the ground” change. Examples include:the plan’s attention to the use of synthetic pesticides
• from the “Croplands” section of the document is this strategy: “Advance safer, more sustainable pest management practices and tools to support the accelerated transition away from harmful pesticides.”
from the “Developed Lands” section: “Utilize safer, more sustainable pest management tools and practices to combat invasive species and accelerate the transition away from harmful pesticides.”
See Beyond Pesticides’ take on “integrated pest management.”]
#172 (of 182 listed strategies) in the “Opportunities to Scale Action” section: “Expand safer, more sustainable pest management alternatives to harmful pesticides and support the increased reliance on biological pest control to protect worker and public health, and support scaled up training for integrated pest management technical assistance providers.” [
in #182, for the Department of Fish and Wildlife: “Prioritize programs and projects that promote safer, more sustainable pest management practices and tools and reduce the use of harmful pesticides, promote healthy soils, improve water and air quality, and reduce public health impacts. In addition, support strategies that achieve co-benefits of safer, more sustainable pest management practices and the health and preservation of ecosystems.”
The coalition of advocates believes that these general goals are acceptable, but must be tied down with strong targets for reducing synthetic pesticide use and support for the transition towards climate-friendly agricultural systems such as organic and agroecological. These systems promote public health, farmer livelihoods, soil health and food sovereignty. In a state that uses pesticides on crops at a rate of 4.5 times the national average, specifics matter, advocates argue. Beyond Pesticides supports the coalition’s critique of the need for specific and ambitious goals to achieve climate goals.
The dangers lie ahead. As climate impacts grow, an increase in uses of synthetic pesticides in agriculture is likely — because of waning efficacy of these compounds (see Beyond Pesticides’
The coalition letter), and mounting pest pressure (because information on pesticide resistance. Because pesticide production contributes to greenhouse gas emission, and because synthetic fertilizers (often combined with pesticides in conventional agriculture) contribute significant amounts to the greenhouse gas NOwarming causes increases in insect metabolism and population growthxThese products contribute to the heating of our atmosphere by containing nitrous oxide. Organic agricultural strategies, on the other hand, have been shown to significantly increase soil carbon drawdown and hold capacity in field trials in California and elsewhere. Beyond Pesticides has more information about the topic. .relationship between agriculture and the climate crisisThe letter also identifies the
People who are already at greater risk of climate-related adverse health effects from increasing extreme heat and poor quality air (from the smoke from wildfires that are becoming more seasonally endemic in the State) Pesticide use has already caused health problems for farmers and their families, who live close to the production fields. harms of increased pesticide use on farmworkers, “Farmworkers are also land stewards, directly involved in growing and harvesting food. They therefore must be considered an integral part of the transition to safer, more sustainable and agroecological farming.” To that end, advocates say that the draft The coalition letter notes “could do more to center agricultural communities and how they will be affected by climate change — for instance, farmworkers are not mentioned at all in the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy.”Draft California Climate Adaptation StrategyThese are the recommendations made by the coalition letter to CNRA
Include an ambitious pesticide reduction target to: (1) reduce the use of synthetic pesticides by 50% by 2030. and (2) reduce the use of hazardous pesticides by 75% by 2030 — focusing first on
- . organophosphates, fumigants, paraquat.neonicotinoids
- . Incentives should include extensive support for the organic and agroecological systems as climate resilience and mitigation strategies. Support should include financial incentives and more technical assistance providers who are experts in organic and agroecology. It should also prioritize serving socially disadvantaged farmer. “We recommend a statewide target of transitioning 30% of California’s agricultural acreage to organic by 2030.”transition to organic
- Given chemical pesticide use, extreme heat and air quality risk, it is possible. (One example would be a climate relief fund for undocumented workers as well as support for community-based organizations that help build climate resilience in farmworker villages. “CNRA staff should also ensure that processes for public input on climate-related strategies are inclusive of farmworkers and other Latinx agricultural communities, protect farmworkers’ safety and health for all feedback mechanisms.”[including language accommodations]
Specific strategies should be included
Beyond Pesticides recommends that CNRA and all California agencies involved in solving the climate crisis look to the work done by the California Certified Organic Farmers Foundation (CCOF). Its project encompasses the following:
CCOF Foundation published its 2019 annual report Roadmap to an Organic CaliforniaIt will be a thriving business in 2020. Benefits Report. The Policy ReportBenefits Report sets out the case for, and the ways to get to, an organic food and agricultural system that, as science demonstrates, “can sustainably feed the world’s growing population while promoting public health and prosperity.” The Policy ReportThe report focuses on the dangers of climate change, economic insecurity and inequity and how organic can be a large part of the solutions to these systemic issues. The report notes that “organic agriculture can combat climate change, strengthen the economy, and protect human health.” of CCOF Foundation’s roadmap.Read more in Beyond Pesticides coverageThe world faces a climate emergency. It is also facing crises related to biodiversity and pollinator loss; chemical pesticides that can cause disease; pollution water bodies, waterways and drinking water sources by tens to thousands of chemicals; increasing resistance to medically important antibiotics due to their use in livestock industries; food system rife w/ pesticide residues; compromised nutritional value due to soil maltreatment with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides; and damage to critical ecosystems that provide essential environmental services that support all living things.
The key to solving these crises is organic agriculture and good land management. Beyond Pesticides believes there is no excuse not to make organic farming more accessible. Please refer to the
Take part in the advocacy by signing up for the Action of the Week Monday, November 8th.Beyond Pesticides homepageSources:
And https://resources.ca.gov/Newsroom/Page-Content/News-List/California-Releases-First-Ever-Draft-Natural-and-Working-Lands-Climate-Smart-StrategyBeyond Pesticides is not responsible for any opinions or positions that are not attributed to this article.https://resources.ca.gov/-/media/CNRA-Website/Files/Initiatives/Expanding-Nature-Based-Solutions/FINAL_DesignDraft_NWL_100821_508.pdf