Sugarcane burning in the Glades communities poses a severe threat to human health.
The threat is especially aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, a disease of the respiratory system that has already exacted a cruel price in the Glades communities – some of them pandemic hotspots.
How Did We Get Here?
For far too long, the families who have made these small cities their home have feared retribution from the sugar industry for their complaints. So, for decades they remained silent and in harm’s way.
But they are no longer silent. They are fighting back.
Armed with science, fearless leaders throughout the region are pushing back on the status quo and demanding change to the pre-harvest burns.
These burns choke the air with chemicals and soot every year from October through May, and October is right around the corner.
Burning During Covid-19
The Center for Disease Control has recommended a complete ban on sugarcane burns in light of the Covid-19 pandemic for a number of reasons.
Fine particulate matter from the cane burns gets deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream, and has been linked to serious problems, including heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, aggravated asthma and decreased lung function.
What Can Be Done?
Fortunately, there is a green alternative to this pre-harvesting practice that is already implemented in sugarcane fields around the world, including some fields in the Glades. Green Harvesting works for the sugar industry and for their neighbors in the community.
There is only one office holder in Florida who can force that change – Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried – whom the Everglades Trust supported when she ran for the office and still supports today.
It's time for Commissioner Fried to force the sugar industry to modernize. She must reject the sugar industry's lobbyists and listen to the CDC, along with more than 200 religious and environmental organizations, including the Everglades Trust, demanding a complete ban on cane burning in Florida.
This is not a partisan issue. Floridians of all stripes – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – are all coming together with one voice to say: Stop the Burn!
To learn more about this cheap but dangerous method of harvesting sugarcane, please explore these links: