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Note: Making Pesticides Public: A Disclosure-Based Approach to Regulating Pesticide Use

By Brian Jacobson. Full text here.

Many states currently classify pesticide application records as private under state data practices law, thereby shielding such information from the public. This means that families living in rural areas where agricultural chemicals are in frequent use cannot access information about where and when pesticides are applied. Though government officials generally have the authority to collect and analyze pesticide records, state agencies often lack the time and resources to properly monitor them. As a result, pesticide applicators can operate relatively unchecked. The Note argues that data classifications keeping pesticide application information from the public should be repealed. By making such information available to the public, persons at risk from reckless chemical use can take proper measures to protect themselves. Furthermore, in the wake of recent Supreme Court willingness to consider state common law claims in pesticide cases, victims of irresponsible pesticide application will have a remedy in court. Public disclosure of pesticide use records combined with the threat of private litigation would provide a powerful supplement to the regulatory system and help ensure that pesticides are used in a lawful and responsible manner.