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Bill To Tackle Equity Issues Related to Pesticide Exposure Signed by the Governor

For immediate release:

A bill to establish an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee under the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has been signed by the Governor. With the passage of AB 652, which is authored by Assemblymember Alex Lee, the committee will be created to ensure that community members who are disproportionately exposed to pesticides can meaningfully offer their input on the use of pesticides. Ultimately, the goal of the bill is to reduce the racial and socioeconomic disparities of pesticide exposure.

Under AB 652, DPR will form the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee by January 1, 2026, and the committee will recommend ways for DPR to integrate environmental justice considerations into its decision-making processes. 

“AB 652 will create an avenue for communities most impacted by pesticide exposure to be heard,” Assemblymember Lee said. “Historically, these communities have not had the opportunity to provide meaningful input on pesticide policies and programs, and it’s high time for DPR to create an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. This committee will play an important role in advancing health and environmental equity in California.” 

AB 652 is sponsored by Pesticide Action Network, Californians for Pesticide Reform and Safe Ag Safe Schools. 

"This is a very important bill that will give a voice to our communities that are affected, such as my own hometown of Greenfield in the Heart of the Salinas Valley—also known as ‘The Salad Bowl of the World,’" said Yanely Martinez, Community Organizer of Safe Ag Safe Schools. “AB 652 is a bill for the people, by the people.”

Pesticide exposure is linked to a range of short-term and long-term health effects, such as increased risk of certain cancers, birth defects and respiratory illness. But researchers have also underscored the disproportionate exposure to pesticide use across California’s communities. For instance, more than 95% of agricultural pesticide use in California occurred in 60% of zip codes with the highest proportion of residents of color, according to a 2015 study. Despite such disparities, DPR lacks formalized mechanisms for meaningful public engagement with these impacted communities. 

"The data shows that pesticides disproportionately impact residents of color in California,” said Asha Sharma, Organizing Co-Director of Pesticide Action Network. “The establishment of an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee at the Department of Pesticide Regulation is a critical first step in addressing those disparities.”

The committee will consist of up to 11 members including: 

  • At least two environmental justice leaders who represent rural communities with the most significant exposure to pesticides.
  • At least one environmental justice leader who represents urban communities with the most significant exposure to pesticides.
  • At least one representative of Native American, tribal, or indigenous groups.
  • At least one farmworker advocate.
  • Up to one person with expertise in issues affecting socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.
  • Up to one agroecologist or biologist with an environmental justice background.

"California needs to urgently establish a meaningful environmental justice stewardship that takes into account the lived experience of farmworker families and communities affected by pesticide exposure,” said Angel Garcia, Co-Director of Californians for Pesticide Reform. “Our efforts to address the ongoing health disparities linked to pesticides must be rooted in uplifting the voices of people living in regions where highly hazardous pesticides are used in large quantities. The time is now."