December 23rd, 2003
To the Editor:
Thank you for publishing this important piece by Ms. Karen Charman about Dr. Shafey. I became acquainted with the good doctor’s struggles back in 1999 when I found myself on the front lines of a pesticide war here in my home town of New York City. As I assisted in collecting data for a bipartisan hearing held about the use of malathion over the most densely populated region ever to be sprayed with poisons upon municipal order, the event in Florida took center stage.
It appears that NYC officials took measures to postpone the publishing of the MMR report detailing chemical injuries done to Florida residents so New Yorkers would believe the lies being told by Mayor Giuliani and his henchman in the NYC health department. We were assured over and over again that malathion was safe and no harm would come to us even if we were directly sprayed with the stuff. Our Mayor bragged he had been sprayed seven times himself. That does not speak well for his judgement, should anyone be waiting in the wings to offer him employment in a health related field.
I am one of approximately 16 percent of the population who is deficient in an enzyme needed to detoxify certain pesticides when they enter the body. As a result of exposures to pesticides in work and residential settings, I am brain damaged and disabled at the age of 45. Thanks to Dr. Shafey and responsible journalism at the Tampa Tribune (Ms. Hollingsworth), I learned enough about the dangers to avoid being harmed by NYC to any great extent. However, I was and am still horrified by the refusal of the health department here to gather statistics on NYC residents harmed by their needless coating of the streets with highly toxic materials. Reports of illness were refused by city agencies when called by damaged citizens. Given the irresponsible use of these chemicals by NYC officials, I was forced to move out of the city where I had lived and worked all of my life.
Please convey to Dr. Shafey the appreciation of millions of Americans who are in the position of being chronically ill due to corporate greed and government complicity in the manufacture/usage of pesticides. He should be aware that the House just passed the “No Fear Act” to protect whistleblowers like him and he should probably contact the committee which sponsored that bill for assistance in his cause.