Those interested in pollinator and public health issues are fortunate that the 33rd national Beyond Pesticides forum will be in Florida for the first time and will be at the Florida A&M University College of Law in downtown Orlando (201 Beggs Ave, Orlando, FL 32801). The Beyond Pesticides Forum is an annual event from the Washington, D.C. non-profit organization Beyond Pesticides, formed in 1981.
The Beyond Pesticides Forum kicks off on Friday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m. with a Pesticides 101 session, followed by a reception and keynote panel “Protecting Workers Health and the Environment: From Field to Table.” Participants in that panel include the staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety, executive director of the Florida Organic Growers, author of Project Animal Farm and the chef and co-owner of Cress Restaurant in Deland.
On Saturday, April 18, following breakfast, the morning keynote speaker is Dr. Louis Guillette, who as a zoologist at the University of Florida (UF) was the one who discovered problems in Lake Apopka’s alligator population, including diminished reproductive rates and physical and hormonal abnormalities. There follows a panel on State of the Science and Law, with experts from UF and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Then participants can choose among breakout sessions on Pesticides and Health Issues, Pollinator Protection, Water Quality, Local and Institutional Policies, or Recent Developments in Food and Agricultural Law.
After lunch, a panel will discuss Agricultural Justice Labeling, the production manager of Uncle Matt’s Organic Farm will speak, and a panel will present on Organic Management Approaches and Cutting Edge Alternatives. In the late afternoon, participants can choose among breakout sessions on the following topics: Farmworker Leadership and Participation; Organic: Successes and Challenges; Land Management Practices; and Mosquitoes and Unwanted Species.
Finally after a reception and dinner, Dr. Tyrone Hayes, Integrative Biology Professor, University of California Berkeley, will give the final keynote address. Dr. Hayes, who at age 35 was the youngest professor at UC Berkeley to receive full tenure, has focused his research on the herbicide Atrazine, which has been sprayed on corn in the U.S. in the millions of pounds per year for more than a half-century. Hays has researched and documented Atrazine’s endocrine-disrupting effects on frogs, which indicate possible health effects on humans as well.
Registration includes the Friday night reception and three organic meals on Saturday for the price of $45 ($20 student).
If you can’t attend, check out resources on moving beyond pesticides on the group’s website, www.beyondpesticides.org.