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California Department of Pesticide Regulation 6614 - A weapon for self-protection


California Department of Pesticide Regulation 6614 - A weapon for self-protection

Speak Softly and Carry a Big 6614

By Ann Maurice, Ad Hoc Committee for Clean Water

What’s 6614? A weapon for self-protection. Read it on line courtesy of the State of California Department of Pesticide Regulation. 6614 says: 

“No pesticide application shall be made or continued if there is a reasonable possibility of contamination of the bodies or clothing of people not involved in the application process.”

It means what it says and it says what it means!

One of Sonoma County’s biggest eco-nomics problems is the interface between agriculture and residential land use. This has been going on since the end of World War II when German toxic chemical manufacturing switched over from wartime purposes to agriculture. Old school ag next door was not so much of a problem. Ma and Pa and their milk cow maybe had an old shoe thrown at their rooster at 4am, but industrialization and toxic chemicals ushered in some serious issues causing undeniable concerns for neighbors, farm workers and the property owners themselves. 

6614 is State Law, part of the California Code. It was written by concerned legislators back in the day who were concerned about pesticides leaving the agricultural property. Pesticides were not always “conventional”. Many people, including farmers, had concerns about contamination of the land and water, and they fought it, preferring “insectaries” and the natural process of biological predation -- one species eating another. But chemical companies seized the upper hand and today chemical pesticides are the norm.

What does 6614 say? It does NOT say prove you got sick. It does NOT say hide indoors. It does NOT say the grower has to warn you to shut your widows and bring your dog inside because the applicator (covered in a Haz-Mat suit) is about to let ‘er rip.

The grower has to figure out the size of his nozzle, the potential drift due to wind and air currents so that his pesticides will not contaminate anybody NOT involved in his operation. That means he must NOT contaminate me and you or your kids It does NOT even say you have to wait for an episode to happen. It says if there is a “reasonable possibility” of pesticide leaving the site, it cannot be applied, and if started, it must stop.

So what to do for the economic health of the community? Demand the law be followed. Demand enforcement. We don’t throw trash from car windows anymore and we don’t drop gum wrappers mindlessly on the sidewalk! Our habits can change. The culture can change.

If 6614 were enforced as it should be, no pesticide application would even be considered on vineyards near schools. NEAR SCHOOLS? Such vineyards should be wisely encouraged to go pesticide-free to avoid adverse consequences. That’s just common courtesy, good citizenship and common sense. There should be no need to waste  community resources on interminable litigation. $30 -$40,000 on legal fees to stop what is ALREADY against the law, against human decency? What a waste!

What does the public want? We want non-pesticide agricultural production. Why? Because we’ve learned that pesticides considered safe today turn out to be carcinogenic tomorrow. We’ve learned that pregnant women exposed to toxins today give birth to children who develop tumors in their 20’s. Organic production, including wine, is gaining an ever-increasing market share. As people’s awareness of the hazards of sprays and drift grows, so does our intolerance. To allow pesticide drift on ourselves and succeeding generations is sheer folly. 

So you, who want to be warned in advance, are selling yourselves short, don’t you see? You, who want to be “notified“, are not seeking coverage to the fullest extent the EXISTING law allows. You, who are looking for NEW laws for advance warning regarding pesticide spraying are undermining the brilliant simplicity of the current State Agricultural Code. Support 6614 before the wolves try to rescind it. Didn’t your Momma warn you about the wolves? Didn’t she tell you not to listen sheepishly?

Listen lambs, aim carefully and fire 6614 at Goliath. Sure, it is a case of David versus Goliath. But don’t forget, DAVID WON! 


California Code of Regulations (Title 3. Food and Agriculture) Division 6. Pesticides and Pest Control Operations

Pesticide Use Enforcement


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