GroundTruth Blog

GroundTruth: PAN's blog on pesticides, food & health

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Chalk up another win for the little guy. A handful of residents of Kauai’s Waimea community prevailed in court over biotech giant DuPont-Pioneer last week. Citing extensive, harmful dust generated by DuPont’s seed operations, a jury awarded 15 residents $500,000 in damages.

This is just the latest in an impressive string of victories against pesticide and genetically engineered (GE) seed corporations in Kaua’i, the global epicenter for GE seed testing.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

What, you may ask, is the "spring flush?" In late spring and early summer, large concentrations of herbicides are flushed from croplands. These chemicals — like the herbicide atrazine — then get transported far and wide through surface water systems.

Herbicides are water-soluble and thus have the potential to leach into groundwater supplies as well as streams, lakes and other surface waters. Atrazine is a frequently found contaminant in drinking water supplies throughout the Corn Belt, and every year the spring flush raises concerns over the potential of atrazine spikes in drinking water supplies.

Medha Chandra's blog
By Medha Chandra,

Every year, our PAN International partners carry out amazing on-the-ground campaigns for safer food systems. As a network, we also have a long history of influencing global policies by participating in international treaties. One such gathering is taking place right now in Geneva, and PAN activists from all five regional centers are participating.

The key role PAN plays in these meetings is bringing the realities of pesticide exposures — both the latest science and stories from the field — into the room where high-level decisions are being made. Our active participation has led to significant wins over the years, like a global ban of the hazardous pesticide endosulfan, and strong restrictions on the use of DDT.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

Guess what? Two more studies have confirmed that neonicotinoid insecticides (aka "neonics") are bad for bees. One study documented neonics' impacts on wild bees, which hasn't been looked at much to date. The second found that bees show a preference for neonic-laced food.

A third report from the European Academies Science Advisory Council underscores the importance of the ecosystem service provided by pollinators. The scientific case for taking action to protect bees and other pollinators from neonics just keeps getting stronger.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

What does it take to recruit a group of Iowa farmers and rural residents to an all-day, indoor training on one of the first beautiful days of spring? An issue as serious as pesticide drift.

A few weeks ago PAN Staff Scientist Emily Marquez and I led PAN’s fourth Drift Catcher training in Grinnell, Iowa. The Drift Catcher is a long-standing PAN program that uses community air monitoring to document the problem of pesticide drift in rural communities.

Abou Thiam's blog
By Abou Thiam,

A new World Malaria Day is around the corner and we at PAN applaud the strides made to combat this deadly disease over the past year.

Next month we’ll be closely following discussions at the Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (aka the “POPs Treaty”) in Geneva. This is the body that banned DDT globally back in 2004, except for limited and specific uses for malaria control.

At the upcoming meeting, the use of DDT for malaria control will be reviewed — and its continued use will likely be recommended.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

If you’ve been following the recent big news about Monsanto’s infamous weedkiller RoundUp and cancer, you’ll have heard that industry’s “dirty little secret” just got dirtier.

In case you missed it: the international scientific community sent us two very loud wake-up calls last month. First, the UN World Health Organization’s prestigious International Agency for Research on Cancer released a consensus report that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is a “probable carcinogen.” A few days later, a team of international scientists based in New Zealand reported that widely available commercial formulations of RoundUp, 2,4-D and dicamba can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance in common disease-causing bacteria.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

I’ve been an earthworm fan for decades. At my Oakland, California home I dump vegetable scraps into a big plastic bin with worms. Once or twice a year I collect incredibly rich worm compost, teaming with roly-poly bugs (isopods), worms — and billions of critters I can’t see. My garden plants love it, and it’s free.

In agricultural soils, worms (different kinds, but worms nevertheless) can contribute significantly to soil respiration with a direct and sharp increase in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released, as the number and length of worm canals increases. It turns out this soil respiration is critical to plant health.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Should parents, families and teachers be warned when hazardous and volatile pesticides are used next door? That was the question before a panel of experts in California last week. Their answer may provide the basis for critical new rules for use of pesticide fumigants, and any neighbor’s right to know.

Fumigant pesticides are a problem for the Golden State. They are highly volatile, likely to drift and linked to a wide range of health impacts, including cancer. Yet every year, over 40 million pounds of these soil-sterilizing chemicals are used on California fields.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In the first study of its kind, researchers have linked pesticide residues on food with poor semen quality. The new study adds to a growing body of evidence tying very low-level chemical exposures with reproductive and other health harms.

Scientists from Harvard University's School of Public Health found that men who ate fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues had fewer normal sperm and a lower sperm count than men who ate produce with lower residue levels.