My Generation

Activists Looking at Fungicide?

Knoxville organic backer takes aim at fungicide use, claiming his children were sprayed.

As I was working on our May cover story on fungicides this past week, I got to know a little about a man named Rick Collins. Collins is an organic proponent from the Knoxville area. He moved to the country, built a wind turbine and sought to raise his young family on organic food. A noble cause, but last summer his cause may have collided with modern agriculture.


Last summer, Collins claims that his young children were playing in the babysitter’s backyard when they were sprayed by an aerial application of Quilt fungicide. For more details, check out Chemical Spray Leads Family to Take Action.

The plane and pilot were hired by Curless Flying Service, of rural Astoria. To say that Collins has become a thorn in the side of owners Harley and Joe Curless is an understatement. Harley says that Collins, in taking his story to the media, has changed that story several times. Collins most recently says that his young children were “dripping wet with chemical.” Curless says that’s not even possible – “You’d get more wet standing behind your mother when she’s spraying hairspray!” They apply Quilt at the rate of 2 gallons per acre. That’s two gallons over 43,000 square feet. A child takes up about 2 square feet. They’re running 150 mph at 12 feet above the tassels.


It’s a story worth watching, as the Curlesses believe Collins was looking for a fight. And with 4 million acres looking to receive a fungicide application in Illinois this year, those little yellow planes will be very visible to a public that wants country living without country life – a public that sees “chemical” as a dirty word and who equate smell with contamination. Check out the above link, and be sure to read all the comments following the story. It’s a glance at the conversation that’s likely coming our way.


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