Los Angeles Senator Maria Elena Durazo, a former labor leader, argued on Thursday the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has not been doing enough to protect farmworkers. She said the granular form of the insecticide chlorpyrifos is still poisoning children despite DPR restrictions and the Newsom administration’s ban on the more widely used forms.

Her bill, SB 86, would require DPR to submit quarterly use reports on the granular form directly to the Legislature. United Farm Workers, a co-sponsor of the bill, labeled CDFA Secretary Karen Ross as “dangerous” for negotiating an exemption on the granular form under the ban.

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In the committee hearing, policy advocates for agriculture and Republican assemblymembers took issue with the bill and the many statements about farming practices.

Representing citrus and several other trade groups, Lauren Noland-Hajick walked the committee through the many safety precautions required for applying the product. Taylor Roshcen of the California Farm Bureau added that this bill could lead to invalid reports due to a rushed process and cost DPR resources and funding.

The committee passed the measure.

Photo: Asm. Bill Quirk of Hayward donned a gas mask and visor while leading the committee hearing on chlorpyrifos. Quirk is one of several lawmakers in the most vulnerable age group for COVID-19.