Entitled Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators: Protecting Health, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, the event was cohosted by the Farmworker Association of Florida, Beyond Pesticides, and Florida A&M School of Law. The Forum provided Farmworker Association staff with an incredible opportunity to learn about the current science and policy information as well as to discuss and compare agricultural regulations and their impacts on farmworkers on the local, state, and national levels. The conference included a Toxic Tour in the Apopka area--led by former Lake Apopka farmworker and community organizer Linda Lee and farmworker and community organizer Miguel Zelaya -- which introduced the participants to the history and legacy of industrial vegetable farming in Central Florida.
The forum focused on agricultural justice, including the impact of pesticide use on human health and the environment, particularly as it relates to farmworker protections and organic agriculture. Biodiversity, pollinator protection, and other relevant issues for Central Florida, including West Nile virus, pesticides in schools and hospitals, and genetic engineering were also discussed. Two giants in the world of precedent-breaking research on the effects of pesticides on reproductive rates of alligators and feminization of frogs, Dr. Louis Guillette and Dr. Tyrone Hayes shared their visions that significant scientific research must lead committed scientists to advocacy outside the lab to protect wildlife, human health and our entire planet.
The weekend brought together scientists, policy makers, public health and environmental advocates, community organizers, and farmworkers to interact and strategize on solutions that are protective of farmworker health and the environment. The collective knowledge, energy, dedication and commitment at the Forum was both inspirational and empowering.
Also, during the forum FWAF General Coordinator, Tirso Moreno, was honored to receive the Dragonfly Award from Beyond Pesticides Executive Director, Jay Feldman.