April 14, 2017 by: Dena Schmidt, staff writer
(NaturalHealth365) This is a major pesticide warning for all farmers. It took nearly six years in the Colorado court system, but justice has finally been served. Rancher James Hopper must pay a $7,500 fine and spend two days in jail for spraying pesticides that drifted onto his neighbor’s property.
This “trespassing” of pesticides is in violation of a 2012 court order issued to help protect the owners of the neighboring farm. Gordon MacAlpine and Rosemary Bilchak run an organic farm that was being tainted by the pesticides from Hopper’s operation. Additionally, Gordon MacAlpine had been diagnosed with leukemia before moving to Colorado, sparking concerns about what pesticide exposure might be doing to his health.
Setting a legal precedent against pesticide exposure
The 2012 ruling involved a permanent injunction that prohibits pesticide application by James Hopper within 150 feet of the property line between the two farms. This barrier was to address the risk of drifting toxic chemicals that can occur from one property to the next.
The current ruling against James Hopper bolsters a legal precedent against pesticide drift as a form of trespassing on adjacent properties. The movement is toward the protection of landowners, their farms as well as persons with health issues and sensitivities.
This case began in 2011 when James Hopper obtained a pesticide applicator license and began to use the adulticide Fyfanon to address a mosquito issue on the property. This product contains a potent organophosphate insecticide called malathion.
Trespassing with toxic chemicals should not be tolerated
When the pesticide drifted onto the organic vegetable farm next door, the owners took action. A Colorado District Court Judge ruled in their favor against having their property invaded in any way, including by a cloud of toxic chemicals.
James Hopper was prohibited from treating his property for mosquitoes within 150 feet of the adjacent property lines. However, Mr. Hopper continued fogging his entire property, ignoring the ruling and persisting in forcing pesticide exposure on his neighbors through the month of August 2015. He was sentenced to two days in jail and a $7,500 fine in 2016, but proceeded to appeal the ruling for months. A final decision has now been reached, and Mr. Hopper will must serve the sentence.
This case sets an important example in calling the drift of toxic chemicals and the resultant pesticide exposure trespassing. The chemicals can in many cases be carried long distances by the wind and remain suspended in the air for long periods of time.
Pesticide exposure linked with disorientation and increased cancer risk
Some of the adverse health effects of pesticide exposure include dizziness, nausea, headaches, respiratory problems, rashes, mental disorientation and an increased risk for cancer. Sites like organic farms and anywhere children are present can be especially sensitive and vulnerable.
A similar ruling against pesticide drift was made in Minnesota in 2011, but then the state backpedaled on the ruling. Let’s hope more states follow the lead of Colorado by enforcing laws against the trespassing of toxic substances.