Who We Are

Maryland Pesticide Education Network

Our Mission

We are advancing systemic change in Maryland toward a sustainable pesticide-free Chesapeake region.

About Us

Maryland Pesticide Education Network (MPEN) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to protecting the public and the environment from toxic pesticides and promoting healthy alternatives.

Founded in 1994, MPEN began as a coalition of 25 organizations with a diverse membership including health care providers, consumers, environmental, parent, labor, agricultural, and religious organizations. Our coalition-building roots have strengthened over the years and continue today. MPEN founded and facilitates two coalitions currently: The Maryland Smart on Pesticides Coalition of over 100 diverse organization and business members and the Marylanders for Food and Farm Worker Protections Coalition with 16 farmworker and environmental organization members and a number of expert labor consultants.

MPEN was instrumental in passage of nationally groundbreaking laws: 1998 and 1999 Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools laws ensured pesticides are only used as last resort in and around Maryland public schools. This law opened the door and became the model other states to adopt similar protections  around the nation.  In 2016 and 2017, our Smart on Pesticides Coalition advocated for and won two first-in-the-nation pollinator protection laws. And, as of December 31, 2021, we succeeded in making Maryland the first state in the U.S. to institute a full ban on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos.

The impact of pesticide use is a complex issue about which we will never have perfect knowledge. Therefore,  MPEN’s work is based on the precautionary principle, which states: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or their environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

Our Vision & Goals

The Maryland Pesticide Education Network (MPEN) holds that:

  • Involuntary exposure to pesticides is a human rights issue.
  • Pesticides are not benign in their impact on human health and the environment.
  • Safer alternatives and strategies exist to protect human health, pets, wildlife, and the environment.
  • MPEN’s work and decisions are grounded in scientific (peer-reviewed) findings.

Our Vision: The use of toxic pesticides are replaced by safer alternatives and policies in our state and nation.

To achieve our Vision, our organization:

  • Encourages adoption of safer pest/land management practices for people, pollinators and our food supply, wildlife and the environment, including practices that optimally sequester carbon in an effort to mitigate climate change;
  • Promotes right-to-know and protective policies/laws related to pesticide use, exposure and impact, through an environmental justice lens;
  • Educates/engages public, policymakers, pest/land care management, farmers, waterkeepers and healthcare/public health professionals re: hazards of pesticide exposure and safer alternatives;
  • Promotes programs, policies/laws to eliminate hazardous pesticide use/impact;
  • Promotes a paradigm shift from society’s reliance on pesticides to pesticide-free/organic practices and products to protect the health of all life and;
  • Promotes a paradigm shift from society’s reliance on pesticides to pesticide-free/organic practices and products to protect the health of all life and;
  • Collaborates with local/state/federal agencies, and organizations to promote and accomplish these objectives.

Some Primary Programs

  1. Pesticides & the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, launched in 2006, brings together 300+ stakeholders including regional academic and federal/state agency scientists, public health experts, waterkeepers, farmers, beekeepers, and environmental advocates, who collaborate on reducing pesticide use/impacts in the Bay watershed via its annual conference and three work groups that focus on: a) research/data gaps; b) increasing demand for healthier alternatives; and c) farmer outreach. The Program launched the Smart on Pesticides Coalition in 2012.
  2. The Smart on Pesticides Coalition (SOPC) comprised of 109-member state and national organizations/businesses a) promotes legislation and policies on the state and local levels to reduce pesticide use and impact and, b) educates the public and promotes public engagement via action alerts, a monthly newsletter, and social media on needed pesticide-related actions.
  3. Marylanders for Food & Farm Worker Protection (MFFWP), a coalition of 15 organizations launched in March 2020, advocates for vulnerable food/farm worker protections. The coalition, launched and led by SOPC, includes worker-focused groups: Migrant Clinicians Network, CATA/Farmworkers Support Committee, Centro de los Derechos de Migrante and Farmworker Justice.
  4. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program
    a) The IPM in Health Care Facilities Project 
    launched in 2006, promotes Maryland health care facilities’ implementation of non-chemical pest/weed prevention whereby least-toxic pesticides are only used as a last resort. Our work with health care facilities protects thousands from unnecessary exposure to pesticides linked to the very illnesses they are being treated for, and supports replacing toxic pesticide-registered disinfectants with safer options.
    b) IPM in Schools Project promotes the implementation of Md’s IPM in Schools law which requires schools to eliminate indoor and grounds use of toxic disinfectants using a defined integrated pest management approach with parental, and staff notification when all non-toxic measures fail.
  5. Safer Disinfectants (SaferDisinfectants.org) is a searchable, sortable interface for EPA’s List N — disinfectants approved for COVID-1 — to help consumers, schools, institutions, organizations and businesses identify and use safer disinfecting products rather than products carrying increased health risks.
  6. Vote with Your Wallet, Vote with Your Fork – Go Organic! Campaign promotes a needed paradigm shift to an organic lifestyle to protect health and increase consumer demand for organic products and services. The campaign includes 2 websites: GoOrganicMd.org, and on the national level, our recently launched Go OrganicNow.org.
  7. Healthy Soils Campaign educates government agencies, farmers, land care companies and the pubic on the urgently needed transition to organic land care and farming to optimize carbon sequestration in order to mitigate climate change, as well as protect all life. As we are already currently experiencing the horrific impacts of climate change, the role that organic soil plays in optimally sequestering carbon is becoming an increasingly urgent effort.