Sierra Club Conservation Policies
Pest Management is a process for determining whether pest suppression treatments are
needed, when and where they should be applied, and which pest control strategy and mixture
of tactics should be used.
These strategies may include cultural, biological, chemical, or
physical modifications of the environment to control plants, animals, and other organisms
that cause agricultural, silvicultural, structural, aesthetic, or public health damage.
The Sierra Club bases its pest management policy on the goals of:
- Maintenance of healthy and diverse ecosystems
- Use of sustainable methods of producing food and fiber
- Protection of the health of the people of the Earth
In pursuit of these goals, we adopt the following principles:
- Pest management should be based on ecological principles and sound biological
information. This includes reliance on organisms adapted to local conditions, controls
limited to situations in which monitoring indicates that there is a pest problem that will
cause unacceptable damage, and treatments chosen and timed to be most effective, least
disruptive to natural controls, and least hazardous to humans and the environment.
- Use of toxic or biologically active substances or genetically altered organisms should
be tightly regulated to prevent harm to people and natural and agricultural-silvicultural
- The public should be informed of the health hazards and economic costs that chemical and
biological pest control methods pose at every step - manufacture, formulation, transport,
use, residues on products, storage, and disposal. In addition, the public needs to be
informed of alternative pest management strategies.
- The global air, water, and food supply should be free of harmful residues of pesticides.
- Disposal practices for pesticides and containers should not lead to contamination of
land, air, or water.
- Corporations producing and marketing pesticides have an ethical responsibility to guard
the health and safety of people and ecosystems.
In accordance with these goals and principles, the Sierra Club adopts the following
specific polices, which apply to urban, forest, and agricultural areas both in the United
States and internationally:
(1) The Sierra Club supports legislation and research promoting the use of sustainable
methods of producing food and fiber, that is, methods that:
- Maintain healthy relationships with unmanaged ecological communities.
- Promote permanent pest management systems that can evolve with minimal interference
- Preserve soil tilth and beneficial soil organisms.
- Minimize soil erosion and nutrient loss.
- Utilize resources so as to conserve energy and nonrenewable resources.
(2) Pesticides should be regulated as dangerous materials that play a last-resort role
in pest management systems. This implies that:
- Regulatory judgments concerning the need for a chemical should fully address
alternative, nonchemical management strategies.
- Sales and use of pesticides that pose a danger to the environment or human health
should be restricted to minimize the danger or prohibited.
- All pesticide users should be trained and required to apply pesticides with the safest
available methods, without exposing people in the absence of their informed consent, and
without contaminating water supplies or producing residues that persist beyond the need
for the treatment.
- Tolerances for pesticide residues should be set at lowest possible evels to protect the
health of the most sensitive segments of the population.
- There should be no public exposure through use of pesticides, pesticide residues, or
byproducts of pesticides that cause cancer, birth defects, mutations, reproductive
effects, or alter the immune system or behavior of nontarget organisms.
- Before registering or reregistering any pesticide, the Environmental Protection Agency
should have sufficient laboratory and field tests to evaluate risks to human health, other
organisms, and land, air, and water resources.
- Systems should be designed so that pesticide containers will be reused only for
pesticides and not used for other purposes.
- There should be a system for monitoring the health and environmental effects of
pesticides in use to provide information to the public and direct feedback into the
(3) Comprehensive reforms should be implemented to give the public the right to know
about pesticide hazards:
- The public should have full access to information from all experiments done on
registered, previously registered, and conditionally registered pesticides. This should
include the objectives, methods, results, and significance of the testing. Tests should be
done on pesticides, their separate ingredients (both active and supposedly inert),
impurities, and degradation products.
- Data regarding the effects of pesticide use on food, water, wildlife, vegetation, and
human health should be published regularly.
- Pesticide labels should be written in a way that is readable to prospective users, with
internationally recognizable symbols. Labels, advertising, training materials, and sales
information should provide information concerning long- and short-term effects on human
health as well as possible damage to the environment.
- People in the vicinity of sites where pesticides are manufactured, used, stored, or
disposed of should be informed of the activity to allow them to avoid exposure.
- Foods and other products should be labeled as practicable, with a history of their
exposure to pesticides, enabling freemarket choices to be made by those who must avoid, or
choose to avoid, contamination.
(4) Global environmental protection is every country's responsibility. In today's world
economy, pest management polices in one country can affect the health of people and the
environment in other countries. Therefore:
- International manufacture and trade of pesticides should be regulated by international
- The United States and other pesticide producing countries should not permit the export
of pesticides which have been prohibited for use in their own countries. All pesticides
produced in the U.S., including those intended for export, should be registered by the EPA
to ensure that the decisions to permit their use can be based on adequate health and
environmental impact data.
- Export approval for severely restricted pesticides should be withheld until the
prospective importing country has acknowledged receipt of information regarding the
hazards of the pesticide, specifically requested its export, and demonstrated that it
maintains a pesticide regulatory system for protection of public health and the
environment at least as restrictive as that of the United States.
- The U.S. government should prohibit the sale of pesticides to any country that exports
products containing unacceptable residue levels of those pesticides. Furthermore, the U.S.
government should increase the effectiveness of programs designed to prevent the import
and sale of products containing pesticide residues above tolerance levels, and should
cancel tolerances still in existence for pesticides that have been canceled for use on
- The governments of exporting nations should extend all possible influence under
relevant international agreements and their national regulatory systems to prevent
uncontrolled trade in pesticides. The government should provide assistance for research,
education, and training programs regarding pesticide hazards, safe use, treatment for
poisoning, pest management alternatives, and residue testing techniques.
- The U.S. government should join in adherence to the 1984 United Nations Resolution on
Protection Against Products Harmful to Health and the Environment, as have all other
- The U.S. government should exert its leadership in relevant international
organizations, such as the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World
Health Organization (WHO) to influence the procurement, trade, and use of pesticides and
to allocate resources for non-chemical, least hazardous pest management procedures and
- The governments of the pesticide producing countries should establish guidelines on the
role and responsibilities of the pesticide industry, especially multinational corporations
operating in developing countries, to assure safe manufacture, transport, storage, use,
and disposal of pesticides. These corporations should be required to adhere to
environmental and safety standards no less stringent than are required in their home
- The government and all appropriate institutions including multi- and bilateral
development institutions regional research institutes, universities, and nongovernmental
organizations should move rapidly to carry out research and implement biological, physical
and cultural pest management practices, while minimizing the use of hazardous chemicals.
(5) To promote these goals, principles, and policies, the Sierra Club will:
- Educate and activate citizens and collaborate with other organizations to form a broad
base of support for this policy.
- Work toward the adoption of laws, regulations, and international agreements to
implement this policy.
- Enter into litigation if necessary to achieve these goals.
Adopted by the Board of Directors, November 9, 1985