TOP
They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.
Signs warn of pesticide application at a farm in Greenfield, Calif. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

By Brianna Abbott and Zaydee Sanchez

When Agustin Espinoza Jaramillo shuffles to the doctor who treats his prostate cancer, he says he thinks about the three decades he spent applying pesticides to the fields that surround this farming town.

Jaramillo, 72 years old, long knew some pest-killing chemicals have been linked to health problems including cancer. Even so, his own diagnosis came as a surprise.

“I can’t say that I fully understood everything I was applying,” Jaramillo said.

Farmworkers and families in Greenfield believe cancer cases in their community were caused by pesticide used in nearby fields. Establishing whether pesticide or another environmental exposure caused cancer in a particular person is difficult. Many factors influence whether someone develops cancer, and the interplay among those forces isn’t fully understood.

Read the full story in The Wall Street Journal.

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Bright lights illuminate fields as workers pick through the night. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Protesters rallied for more pesticide regulations outside government offices in Monterey County, Calif. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Agustin Espinoza Jaramillo receives an injection every three months as part of his cancer treatment. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Agustin Espinoza Jaramillo tends lemon and persimmon trees in the backyard of his home in Greenfield, Calif. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Jaramillo’s wife, Teresa Espinoza Rojas, holds a decades-old photograph of herself at a United Farm Workers protest. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Greenfield City Council Member Yanely Martinez, her husband, Luis, and their daughter Africa prepare for a protest calling for more pesticide regulation. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Martinez submits concerns over pesticide use to the Monterey County clerk. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Audelia Cervantes Garcia visits the Salinas River, where she used to walk after work with her husband, Alejandro. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Garcia holds a photograph of Alejandro, who died of lung cancer. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Advocates for more pesticide regulation gathered outside Monterey County government offices. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Vineyards outside Greenfield, Calif. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Greenfield City Council Member Yanely Martinez and her daughter Africa at the protest outside Monterey County’s government offices. ‘They know they are fighting for their future,’ Martinez said. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

They Believe Pesticides Caused Their Cancers. Proving It Is Almost Impossible.

Agustin Espinoza Jaramillo in his backyard with one of his dogs. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez

 

Zaydee Sanchez is a Mexican American visual storyteller, documentary photographer, and writer from Tulare, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. She seeks to highlight underreported communities and overlooked narratives, with a focus on labor workers, gender, and displacement.

Save An Endangered Species: Journalists

Zaydee Sanchez is a Mexican American visual storyteller, documentary photographer, and writer from Tulare, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. She seeks to highlight underreported communities and overlooked narratives, with a focus on labor workers, gender, and displacement. Zaydee is an International Women's Media Foundation grantee and a 2021 USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism Fellow. Her work has been published in Al Jazeera, High Country News, Palabra, National Geographic, NPR, and more. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Skip to content