Agritoxins Campaign

June 15, 2016 Victory: Wishtoyo, our Ventura Coastkeeper Program, and Partner Public Interest Organizations Secure the Most Protective Agricultural Pollution Regulations in California for Ventura & Los Angeles County Inland and Coastal Waters. Click for Agricultural Waiver ("AG Waiver") Press Release
Click Here for the VC Reporter Article Covering the AG Waiver Victory 

Wishtoyo's Ventura Coastkeeper Program sampling a discharge of Stormwater Runoff from a Nursury that contained very high levels of nutrients 

Agritoxins, a word coined by Wishtoyo, which refers to the toxic pesticides used in agriculture, are impairing Ventura County’s inland and coastal waterbodies, and polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink. In 2001, Ventura County ranked 9th in its use of agritoxins and 4th in its use per square mile among all fifty-eight California counties. Forty-four percent of the land in Ventura County is used for agriculture.

Stormwater and irrigation runoff carry residual agritoxins (up to 80% of the amount used in some cases), high concentrations of nutrients from fertilizers, and excessive sediment loads that are often laden with agritoxins into Ventura County’s coastal rivers, estuaries, wetlands, Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), and seashores. All of these waterways are the primary nurseries for aquatic life and migratory birds, and some of the most heavily used recreational areas in the State of California.   

Dry Weather Discharge of Agricultural waste products Polluting Calleguas Creek and Mugu Lagoon

Swimmers, surfers, and children just playing in the shore-break surf are especially vulnerable to liquid borne agritoxins since they often ingest water as a consequence of their activities. Many of the most commonly used agritoxins in Ventura County disrupt the immune systems, reproductive abilities, nervous systems, and morphology of flora, fauna, and all living beings. As these toxins transport and biomagnify up the food chain, the effect become even more severe and ecosystems suffer devastating degradation. Agritoxins pollute our air and water and the bodies of living organisms (including humans) in ways we do not yet fully understand, yet the agritoxin users do not pay to monitor, regulate, or clean up them up. The adverse ecological and societal health consequences are thus paid for by those who live in communities near agricultural activities.

Current federal and state regulations are ineffective in ensuring that agritoxins do not harm people and the environment.  However, through working with regulatory agencies, the legislature, and farmers, and through monitoring, advocacy, and legal action, we can prevent agritoxins from polluting Ventura County’s environment.

VCK’s Agritoxins campaign is focused on:

1.) Adoption and enforcement of a sufficient Clean Water Act Agricultural Waiver 

2.) Monitoring water quality and on-farm best management practices

3.) Advocating for more protective local, statewide, and federal regulations

4.) Protecting communities and workers via outreach, education, and advocacy 

5.) Protecting endangered species

Wishtoyo White Paper

Agritoxins: Ventura County's Toxic Time Bomb

            To read the Agritoxins White Paper click here.

Wishtoyo Foundation’s White Paper, Agritoxins: Ventura County's Toxic Time Bomb, documents the inadequate occupational health and safety protections for migrant farm workers and the disparate threats that agritoxins pose to Latino communities and schools in Ventura County.  

Low income, diverse, and minority communities are not afforded safe and legally adequate occupational health and safety practices nor equal environmental protection, access, and benefits under the law and local policy.  The white paper serves as a foundation to help organize and empower these communities to protect themselves from environmental contaminants and to help them gain access to increased interactions with functioning and beautiful ecosystems.  

Our white paper is also about promoting an understanding that environmental protection encompasses all citizens and living beings in a watershed and in the world, and that achieving sustainable conservation results requires respecting and providing living essentials for everyone in our local and global communities. 


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Emissions Project

A portion of the many Agricultural Fields in the OXnard Plain discharge VOCs into the air Residents, school children, and visitors breathe. (courtesy of Lighthawk) 

Volatile Organic Compounds Lawsuit VICTORY  - July 2007
A lawsuit brought by a coalition of community-based environmental justice groups, including Wishtoyo Foundation / Ventura Coastkeeper, will provide relief for smog-plagued California.  After two years of resistance by senior environmental officials in the Schwarzenegger Administration, a Federal judge ordered California to reduce smog-forming emissions from pesticides.  Pesticides rank among the largest contributors to California’s notorious smoggy air quality.  In Ventura County, pesticides are the third largest source of smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.  In the San Joaquin Valley, residents are exposed to the most number of unhealthy days of pollution in the United States, and pesticides rank as the fourth largest source of smog pollution. 

“Despite smog-forming emissions actually increasing over time, the Schwarzenegger Administration chose to protect pesticide users and manufacturers rather than public health.” said Mati Waiya, Executive Director of the Wishtoyo Foundation and the Ventura Coastkeeper.  “In Ventura, smog-forming emissions from pesticides have doubled, with most of those emissions coming from fumigants.”

In 1994, California regulators promised to reduce smog-forming emissions from pesticides by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2005.  In February 2006, a Federal judge ruled that California violated that promise in 1997 when the state used inappropriate data to avoid adopting regulations necessary to achieve the 20% reduction.

“The order gives the state and pesticide users ample time to adjust practices and develop reasonable regulatory controls,” said Mary Haffner, Board Member of Community and Children’s Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning “The regulators need to call off their lawyers, stop fighting us, and start protecting the public.” The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) represented Wishtoyo and the other community community groups.