A year like no other | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

A year like no other

Kristin Schafer's picture
Path on farm

What an incredible — and challenging — year this has been.

On the national stage, we've seen several key issues we work on here at PAN move into the spotlight like never before. Thanks to ill-advised federal policy decisions, it is now common knowledge that pesticides harm children’s health, and that farmland can be devastated by pesticide drift. The corporate capture of our public agencies has been on display for all to see.

Even so, we’re celebrating some significant wins with our coalition partners. In California, we saw first-in-the-country pesticide buffer zones around schools, along with legal recognition and resources for farmers of color. We’ve seen groundbreaking pollinator protections move forward in Minnesota, and new bans on bad-actor pesticides in place through the work of our global network.

This has all occured in the midst of a tumultuous political climate that makes our efforts as a social justice organization that works toward systemic change especially important and urgent.

For all to see. . .

When Scott Pruitt's EPA reversed course on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos (after a secret meeting with Dow executives), it was such a blatant case of putting corporate interests over science and children's health that it captured national attention and spurred congressional action.

As those who've been in this work with us know well, this has been happening behind the scenes for years. Now the corporate cronyism is visible for all to see.

Likewise, the Midwest dicamba drift crisis is a dramatic illustration of the pesticide treadmill problem that PAN works to tackle head on. This year, more than 3.6 million acres of farmland were damaged by Monsanto's latest chemical "solution" to superweeds — a problem created by widespread use of their flagship herbicide, RoundUp.

The need to shift away from this dangerous, failing system has never been more clear.

Forward, with hope

As those who know me well know, I tend to have a glass-half-full, silver-lining view of the world. To be honest, it’s been a tough mindset to hang onto in 2017.

At the national level we’ve seen civil discourse crumble, a free press undermined and corporations literally handed the reins to our public institutions.

And yet as the year comes to a close, I’m finding many reasons to feel hopeful. People are paying attention. We’re beginning to confront some deep social problems that have been ignored for much too long. And from cities to counties to statehouses, citizens are newly engaged in public life.

I also find hope in the amazing community that is PAN. I’m continuously inspired by our staff, our board, our coalition partners and our many supporters across the country — all bringing such incredible dedication and creativity to this important work, every day.

I'm excited about the momentum we're building together, and what we can make happen in 2018. Let's get to it!

Kristin Schafer
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Joe Stark's picture
Joe Stark /

Thanks for that, that is a positive look at manifest toxicity in face of public awareness and tools for change. Just reading about Trump's adherence to Norman Vincent Peale's "positive thinking" scam. There's some truth to formula "visualize, prayerize and actualize," but what about the goal being achieved. Power, greed, ego worship are not wise or people friendly outcomes of the positive thinking process. Probably Lucifer, the light being, thinks he has succeeded.

Kristin Schafer is PAN's Executive Director. With training in international policy and social change strategies, Kristin has been at PAN for over 20 years. Before taking on the Executive Director role, she was PAN's program and policy director. She has been lead author on several PAN reports, with a particular emphasis on children's health. She serves on the Policy Committee of the Children's Environmental Health Network. Follow @KristinAtPAN