GroundTruth Blog

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

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,


As I strolled through downtown Ashland, Oregon, last week, I was struck by how many “Yes on 92” signs and stickers I saw. There is clear, visible support from businesses and individuals for the measure to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.

And as the measure heads for a vote on November 4, industrial agriculture groups are pulling out all the stops to keep this ballot initiative from winning. Even so, there is an incredible groundswell of support for labeling GE food in Oregon and beyond. Things are looking hopeful!

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Two weeks ago today, I was heading south for the inaugural "ShiftCon" gathering in Los Angeles. It was a fascinating event, attracting hundreds of women (and a handful of men) committed to "Shifting the Conversation" about health, wellness and the environment through social media activism.

My top two takeaways left me feeling optimistic. The first relates directly to our campaign work here at PAN: the pesticide problem is now front and center in the conversation about GE crops, and the link between the two is crystal clear. This is hugely encouraging. And the second? It may be obvious, but at ShiftCon it was palpable: the social media world is an astonishingly active and powerful place.

Linda Wells's blog
By Linda Wells,

It's official. EPA and USDA have both evaluated Dow Chemical's new line of 2,4-D-resistant seeds, Enlist, and have approved both the seeds and the accompanying pesticide formulation for market.

This is a turning point, not just for grain production, but for food production in the U.S. and internationally. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will have pervasive impacts on farmer livelihoods, public health and control of our food system.

Sara Knight's blog
By Sara Knight,

Pesticide corporation Syngenta is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow even more use of one of its bee-harming neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam. But with science clearly showing that neonics harm bees and other pollinators — contributing to dramatic die-offs in recent years — allowing increased use of this chemical would be a striking move in the wrong direction.

If EPA grants the request, more thiamethoxam will be applied to common crops — including corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa — that cover over 250 million acres of U.S. farmland, much of it in the Midwest. The proposed residue level increases vary by crop, but some would go up by as much as 400 times what is currently allowed.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

Last week, California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released new data from its statewide Air Monitoring Network (AMN). As you've heard from us before, pesticide drift can seriously impact the health and well being of people living in rural communities.

And it is happening. Even with DPR's flawed sampling plan, this latest round of data confirms health-harming drift at monitoring sites across the state. Of the 32 pesticides and five breakdown products assessed, 24 were detected at least once. At one site, the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos was found in 75% of the air samples taken.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

PAN and our partners are back to court to stand up for the law passed by the County of Kaua'i last year. The groups are appealing a judge’s disappointing decision last month that struck down Kauai’s landmark law to ensure some of the world’s largest pesticide and biotech corporations are more transparent about their operations.

The law was intended to lift the veil on which pesticides are being used, and where, on the island. Many of these pesticides travel on wind and water to neighboring schools, neighborhoods and farm land. Despite corporate PR efforts, it’s clear that more information about agricultural practices is essential to building a fair, green and healthy food and farming system on Kaua'i.

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

Walking past the ancient Roman Coliseum on my way to the recent International Symposium on Agroecology, the surprising twists of history were on my mind. Even a few years ago, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization — host of the symposium — would never have organized such a meeting. “Agroecology” was considered far too radical and dangerous a concept to many in FAO who had dedicated long careers to exporting the chemical-intensive “Green Revolution” model of agriculture around the world.

Yet there I was, along with 400 other scientists, agri-food system researchers, farmers and social movement leaders, commencing an intensive two-day exchange of agroecological knowledge, science and practice in the heart of Rome.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Very disappointing news came out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday. The agency announced it is greenlighting Dow Agroscience's new genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans that are designed to withstand repeated applications of 2,4-D — an antiquated, dangerous herbicide.

PAN scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman called the decision "a slap in the face" to the thousands of farmers who have expressed concerns about crop damage, economic losses and health risks associated with the dramatically increased use of 2,4-D that will accompany Dow's new crops. USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production will increase between 500% and 1,400% by 2020.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

New California data about pesticides in food have been getting a fair amount of attention recently. Earlier this month, the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released results from 2013 food sampling by their Pesticide Monitoring Program.

Unfortunately, DPR’s conclusion that the residues they found on these latest food samples “pose no health risk” is more than a bit misleading. In fact, the trends indicated by the data are that the percentage of food samples containing pesticides has gone up over the past five years — as has the percentage of illegal residues found.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

Last Saturday morning, I started my day ushering traffic down a dirt road into a potato field. The Toxic Taters Coalition was hosting a field day at Larry Heitkamp’s Yellow Rose Organic Farm outside of Sebeka, MN. About twenty people gathered from surrounding counties to educate themselves about organic potato production, connect with local farmers and learn more about Toxic Taters.

Why tour an organic potato farm? Although a single, massive company — RD Offutt Company, or RDO — plants tens of thousands of acres of potatoes each year in north central Minnesota, it’s certainly not the only potato producer in the region. Local residents who live near RDO potato fields launched the Toxic Taters campaign because they know that RDO’s model of potato production isn’t the only way. Our Coalition wanted to learn more about sustainable potato production — and who better to learn from than a local farmer who is hard at work implementing organic, ecosystem-based practices on his farm?