Migration and Agricultural Health and Safety in a Global Context

Migrant Labor and Global Health Conference UC Davis 2017 Save the Date

WCAHS Director Marc Schenker to hold Conference on Migrant Labor and Global Health at UC Davis in March 2017

Agricultural health and safety will be featured at the upcoming Migrant Labor and Global Health (MLGH) Conference to be held at UC Davis March 2-3, 2017. Often referred to as a “megatrend” of our time, global migration is a phenomenon that involves over 244 million people worldwide, most of whom move in search of work and wellbeing. In the US along, 80 million people are first or second generation immigrants.

Migration is an issue closely related to agricultural health and safety in California, given that 7 in 10 California farm workers are foreign born. California is heavily dependent on immigrants to support its $47 billion agriculture industry, which produces two thirds of the fruits and nuts and over a third of the vegetables in the US. Agricultural jobs are among the most hazardous for workers, and occupational risks are exacerbated when workers do not speak English and have low education levels, which is characteristic of California’s ag workforce.

The MLGH Conference is a two-day exploration of migration and its occupational health, demographic, economic, and political aspects. The conference brings together an international group of experts to discuss international migration, labor and health issues from a multidisciplinary perspective.  A full afternoon is dedicated to occupational health issues with a keynote session provided by John Howard, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.  The afternoon will include a panel session on vulnerable groups of workers with three dynamic speakers: Michael Flynn, who manages research on improving the occupational health of immigrant workers;  Thu Quach, an accomplished research scientist who studies the impact of environmental health issues on disadvantaged populations; and Thomas Arcury, whose research concerns pesticide exposure, green tobacco sickness, skin disease, injuries, housing conditions, and food security among migrant and seasonal farmworkers, concerns that are particularly relevant in agriculture in the Western region. The conference also includes panels sessions on demography, economics of labor migration and public policy.

Marc Schenker, director of WCAHS, will co-host the event along with Giovanni Peri of the Department of Economics at UC Davis. Of immigrant occupational health Dr. Schenker says, “There are higher rates of occupational injury and illness in sectors that heavily employ immigrants. These disparities are generally unknown to the public and to legislators. We need to understand the reality beyond the political hyperbole.”

In addition to occupational health, MLGH will address demographic, legal and economic issues, bringing together renowned scholars and leaders from national and international organizations working towards protection of immigrants’ health.