Founded in 1981, Beyond Pesticides (originally called the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) is a non-profit, grassroots network of groups and individuals concerned with the dangers of pesticides. Members of Beyond Pesticides include individuals, such as "victims" of pesticides, physicians, attorneys, farmers and farmworkers, gardeners, and former chemical company scientists, as well as health, farm, consumer, and church groups. All want to limit pesticide use through Beyond Pesticides, which publishes information on pesticide hazards and alternatives, monitors and influences legislation on pesticide issues, and provides seed grants and encouragement to local groups and efforts.
Administrated by a 15-member board of directors and a small full-time staff, including a toxicologist and an ecologist, Beyond Pesticides is now the most prominent organization dealing with the pesticide issue. It was established on the premise that much is unknown about the toxic effects of pesticides and the extent of public exposure to them. Because such information is not immediately forthcoming, members of Beyond Pesticides believe the only available way of reducing both known and unknown risks is by limiting or eliminating pesticides. The organization takes a dual-pronged approach to accomplish this. First, Beyond Pesticides draws public attention to the risks of conventional pest management; second, it promotes the least-toxic alternatives to current pesticide practices.
An important part of Beyond Pesticides's overall program is the Center for Community Pesticide and Alternatives Information. The Center is a clearinghouse of information, providing a 2,000-volume library about pest control, chemicals , and pesticides. To concerned individuals it sells inexpensive brochures and booklets, which cover topics such as alternatives to controlling specific pests and chemicals; the risks of pesticides in schools, to food, and in reproduction; and developments in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the national law governing pesticide use and registration in the United States. Through the Center Beyond Pesticides also publishes Pesticides and You (PAY ) five times a year. It is a newsletter sent to approximately 4,500 people, including Beyond Pesticides members, subscribers, and members of Congress. The Center also provides direct assistance to individuals through access to Beyond Pesticides's staff ecologist and toxicologist.
In 1991 Beyond Pesticides also established the Local Environmental Control Project after the Supreme Court decision affirming local communities' rights to regulate pesticide use. Although Beyond Pesticides supported bestowing local control over pesticide use, it needed a new program to counteract the subsequent mobilization of the pesticide industry to reverse the Supreme Court decision. The Local Environmental Control Project campaigns first to preserve the right accorded by the Supreme Court decision and second to encourage communities to take advantage of this right.
Beyond Pesticides marked its tenth anniversary in 1991 with a forum entitled "A Decade of Determination: A Future of Change." It included workshops on wildlife and groundwater protection, cancer risk assessment , and the implications of GATT and free trade agreements. Beyond Pesticides has also established the annual National Pesticide Forum. Through such conferences, its aid to victims and groups, and its many publications, Beyond Pesticides above all encourages local action to limit pesticides and change the methods of controlling pests.
[Andrea Gacki ]