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Karl Arne (8/5/46 – 5/26/12)

by kleval — last modified Jun 06, 2012 04:20 PM

A tribute to NCAP board member, Karl Arne, who recently ended his battle with cancer.

Karl Arne


Our dear friend and board member, Karl Arne, passed away on May 26, 2012.  All of us at NCAP remember Karl as an amazing light in national efforts to move beyond pesticides and to protect people and planet.  He has left all of us and this earth better for having lived. 

I recall the many smart and passionate conversations I had with Karl, and the influence he had on our work. Many of NCAP's federal efforts, including the push for better pesticide monitoring at EPA, are part of Karl’s legacy. Those projects began as his ideas.

I first met Karl when he worked in the Seattle EPA Region 10 office. I was working as Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Rural Affairs at the time.  We began our work together by connecting farmers and scientists to help meet sustainable agriculture needs. In those days, "organic" was not yet a household word. Karl's work and our projects together resulted in many positive changes at US Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service. Where before there was little attention to organic and sustainable agriculture research needs, he helped to create a national organic research staff and designate more resources to organic and sustainable agriculture research.

When I eventually interviewed for the position of executive director with NCAP, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Karl had joined NCAP's board of directors. He had only recently joined the organization and so wasn’t listed on any materials, but when I walked into the interview there he was, a welcoming and familiar presence, and a living connection between my past and future work. No doubt sensing my eagerness to work with NCAP, he lobbed out a question about the farm bill which allowed me to bring up past experience promoting research on alternatives to pesticides in agriculture. Thanks, Karl!  That was cool.

Karl retired from EPA in 2008, after a 28-year career that focused primarily on pesticides. He worked in pesticide risk assessment at the Office of Pesticide Programs at EPA headquarters and then moved to the Region 10 Office in Seattle in 1988. In Seattle, he served as a pesticide expert and also led the Agriculture Sector, an effort to coordinate EPA programs that have a connection to agriculture. Karl held a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Washington State University and began his career in pesticides when he was a postdoctoral research associate at Duke University.

Karl began his career in pesticides by synthesizing novel pyrethroid insecticides for the FMC Corporation. This led him often to explain how he “came about” from developing pesticides to then working actively to reduce pesticide use and find better alternatives. His direct experience with pesticides convinced him that there had to be a better way.

Karl’s passion for sustainable agriculture and his keen scientific mind led him to serve and enhance the efforts of many in the movement.  In addition to serving on NCAP’s board, he also served on the Stewardship Council of the Food Alliance, a Portland based non-profit that certifies sustainably grown food. He was involved in Washington Toxics Coalition, and the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network. 

Karl also loved cycling and cycled clear from Seattle to Oakland, California where he promptly attended one of our NCAP board meetings.  He was a father, friend, brother, gardener, musician, traveler, hiker, scientist, change maker, and lover of good food and wine.  We remember all that he brought to our tables and all that will come because of his life being well lived.  You are with us always in the seeds you have sown for a better world.  Thank you, Karl.

- Kim Leval, and the NCAP family