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St. Petersburg, Florida

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Bob Carroll
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Pesticides May Be Cause Of Birth Defects In Florida

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An agriculture company could pay $111,200 for allegedly violating federal and state pesticide laws at two of its farms in Florida – a St. Petersburg Times article today. An investigation is proceeding into the cause of three cases of birth defects in children born to mothers who worked for Ag-Mart and were exposed to the pesticide.

An agriculture company could pay $111,200 for allegedly violating federal and state pesticide laws at two of its farms in Florida – the lead of a St. Petersburg Times article today. Not particularly alarming until you read the following:

Bronson’s office [Charles Bronson, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services] launched an investigation into Ag-mart in March with the Collier County Health Department and the Florida Department of Health into the cause of three cases of birth defects in children born to mothers who worked for Ag-Mart.

Some pesticides have been associated with birth defects for many years. In some instances, surprisingly, the father may have been the person exposed to the chemical. For these reasons there are strong warnings and precautions regarding pesticide use. However, there is frequently a difficulty in proving that a specific birth defect is related to a particular pesticide exposure. Sometimes the exact nature of the birth defect can be linked to the product. In other cases, statistics have to support the connection.

According to the Times article:

Ag-Mart Produce Inc. and four of its employees are accused of 88 counts of pesticide use violation at two different farms in Immokalee and Jennings, according to an announcement Wednesday….

The most serious counts involve “preharvest intervals” and “restricted entry intervals,” when Ag-Mart allegedly harvested crops anywhere from one day to five days after pesticide applications despite a seven-day waiting period indicated on the label, according to the department.

However, no illegal pesticide residues were identified on food crops in routine sampling from the farms and the violations have not been linked to the birth defects, the department said.

One of the babies has a cleft palate and facial abnormalities. One child was born so disfigured her sex couldn’t be determined until her body was autopsied, according to published reports.

Despite the office finding numerous cases of pesticide violations, it never connected any illnesses to them.