Hot Potato – Pesticide Drift and Toxic Taters

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You may have seen the Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC) posts regarding Toxic Taters on October 6th.  We helped the Toxic Tater Coalition in Minnesota bring attention to the issue of toxic pesticide drift in potato farming  and pressure McDonald’s – a major customer of Minnesota’s potatoes – to source their potatoes from farms that use less toxins.

Many of the potato farms in question apply the pesticide chlorothalonil that can drift onto adjacent properties exposing local residents, children, pets, and wildlife to its toxic effects. In 1987, the EPA classified chlorothalonil as unsafe for home lawn use and likely carcinogenic.  Yet, chlorothalonil  remains the most commonly used synthetic fungicide in the United States and popular brand names of Bravo® , Echo® , and Daconil® use the chemical as an active ingredient.  U.S. farmers and landscapers use the chemical for many different crops including potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, and turf-grass for golf courses. In Minnesota, many residents express concern with the potato farm corporation R.D. Offutt Company (RDO), which uses chlorothalonil to grow more than 50,000 acres of potatoes.

The residents of the rural farming community of Melrose, Minnesota face chlorothalonil pesticide drift issues from RDO’s farming practices each summer.  Many other rural communities in Minnesota share Melrose’s concerns with their exposure to pesticide drift from RDO potato fields. You can hear their concerns directly by viewing this video.  And those are just our friends in Minnesota. Similar scenarios play out across the U.S.

The Toxic Taters Coalition grew in response to community health concerns about chronic pesticide drift from nearby RDO potato fields and the lack of responsiveness of both McDonald’s and RDO about their health concerns.  According to Toxic Taters, “McDonald’s claims that their potatoes are produced sustainably, but rural residents in central Minnesota know differently.”  Toxic Taters, would like McDonald’s and RDO to take responsibility for causing pesticide drift by eliminating the use of all pesticides on potatoes grown in Minnesota, in favor of using safer, sustainable farming practices. On October 6th, Toxic Taters supporters took action at more than 40 McDonald’s stores in locations that spanned Minnesota, Ontario, Southern California, and Hawaii. Although  “National Day of Action on McDonald’s” is over, MPAC encourages folks to continue the fight by:

  1. Spreading the word through social media by connecting with Toxic Taters on Twitter and Facebook to share updates; and
  2. Signing the Petition by going here.

MPAC is proud to support these efforts and other efforts to promote sustainable and innovative methods of disease and pest control.

For more information on chlorothalonil and Toxic Taters go to: