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EPA Reaches Agreement With Syngenta for Farmworker Safety Violations

February 12, 2018, 9:40 AM HST (Updated February 12, 2018, 9:40 AM)
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, with Syngenta Seeds LLC, to resolve violations of federal pesticide regulations at its farm in Kekaha, Kaua‘i.

Under the settlement, Syngenta Seeds, a subsidiary of Syngenta AG, will spend $400,000 on 11 worker protection training sessions for growers in Hawai‘i, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Syngenta will develop a curriculum and training materials tailored to local growers who face pesticide compliance challenges related to language, literacy, geographic and cultural factors.

Syngenta will also develop compliance kits for use at these trainings and for wider distribution in the agricultural community in English and four other languages commonly spoken by growers and farmworkers in the training locations—Mandarin, Korean, Tagalog and Ilocano. Syngenta will make the kits available to the public by posting the materials online for three years after the trainings are complete. Syngenta will pay a civil penalty of $150,000 as part of the settlement.

“Reducing pesticide exposure for the millions of farmworkers who cultivate our food is a high priority for EPA,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This settlement will bring to Hawai‘i and Pacific Island growers much-needed training to protect agricultural workers.”

In matters referred to EPA by the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, EPA found that in two separate incidents at its Kekaha farm, Syngenta failed to notify workers verbally and with signage to avoid fields recently treated with pesticides, resulting in exposure and hospitalization of workers. In addition, EPA found Syngenta failed to provide both adequate decontamination supplies on-site and prompt transportation to a medical facility for exposed workers.

Restricted-use pesticides are not available for use by the general public because of high toxicity and potential to injure applicators and bystanders and to adversely affect the environment.

Syngenta AG is a global Swiss agribusiness that produces agrochemicals and seeds. As a biotechnology company, it conducts genomic research. It was formed in 2000 by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals.

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For more information on EPA’s action, go online.

For more information on pesticide Worker Protection Standard, go online.

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