GroundTruth Blog

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

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Six months after EPA published its long-awaited proposal for improving the federal rules protecting farmworkers from pesticide exposure, we’re ready to celebrate a tremendous show of farmworker solidarity. Next week is the deadline for telling EPA to ensure the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rules are at least as strong as those protecting other workers. If you haven't yet, it's not too late to add your voice.

From unions to faith leaders, public health agencies and chefs (this past spring) the demonstration of unity in our collective call for better protections for farmworkers and their families is heartening.

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

One morning a few weeks ago, I received an email from the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC), announcing the makeup of a provisional committee of experts that has been tasked with carrying out a comprehensive new study of GE crops. This study is supposed to assess the history of GE crops around the world, the diverse experiences of farmers in different countries and a wide range of “purported” negative and positive impacts of GE seeds and their associated technologies (for example, pesticides).

Done right, this could be an illuminating investigation, right? But as I looked over the bios provided on NRC’s webpage, I quickly realized that the Council appears to have a pretty poor idea of how to carry out such a challenging, complex and multi-faceted study. In fact, this week 67 scientists and researchers publicly rebuked the NRC for failing, right at the outset, to put together a slate of experts equipped for the task (full letter here).

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Three legal developments in the last week — in New York, New Delhi and Bhopal — set back the quest for compensation and contamination cleanup for residents of Bhopal who were killed or injured in the 1984 pesticide plant explosion, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Not only were local residents harmed directly by the blast, but contamination at the accident site continues to put the surrounding community's health at risk. At the center of the past week's legal proceedings is the issue of corporate accountability for crimes against humanity, with Dow Chemical front and center.

Medha Chandra's blog
By Medha Chandra,

We’ve come to know that getting California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) to take action is an exercise in patience. But communities across California ran out of patience last week. They have been waiting for years for DPR to take action on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, with few results.

In January, over 60 groups from across the state sent a letter urging DPR to protect California’s kids from exposure to chlorpyrifos. We also delivered a petition with over 12,000 signatures in March, urging the agency to take action on this issue. But DPR didn't respond, and took no action. In frustration, these groups — including PAN — sent another letter last week with renewed urgency, urging the state to protect children from the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. Join us in this call for action!

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

We've known for some time that neonicotinoids — the class of systemic, bee-harming insecticides — are water soluble. They've been detected in surface water in several agriculture-heavy states. And now they're showing up in Midwestern waters.

Last month, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report finding clothianidin, one of the most widely used neonics, in 75% of Midwest streams surveyed. Other common neonics were detected too. Not good news.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

Epigenetic transgenerational inheritance. Say that again? Those three "little" words refer to environmental exposures causing genetic changes that can be passed on to future generations.

These effects appear to be transferred via modification of DNA — modifications that can sometimes increase the risk of disease. As a study released last week shows, the increased disease risk can keep showing up through multiple generations.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Well, it's about time. The invisible problem of pesticide drift is on the policy radar in ways it's never been before — with changes in the wings that could protect kids and communities in very real ways. But these changes won't happen unless we keep the pressure on.

From California to the Midwest to our nation's capital, drift is now a focus of public concern and policy conversation. And as the science linking pesticide exposure to children's health harms continues to stack up, pressure to protect kids from pesticide drift is growing stronger as well.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

This week, the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) unveiled the "trustmark" or logo that will be included on all produce certified to be "responsibly grown, farmworker assured."

Likely to hit grocery store shelves later this year, EFI-certified produce is grown according to rigorous standards for fair working conditions, pest management and food safety. And all along the way, in the development of both the standards and the trustmark, diverse groups — representing farmworkers, farmers, retailers and consumers — have been present at the table. PAN is proud to be among them.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Last week, PAN UK released a report on pesticide residues in bread, analyzing government data over a 13-year time span. The report highlights extensive pesticide residues in some foods — including two-thirds of all bread products — and the ways in which food residue trends have shifted over time.

Pesticide residues have been in our food as long as we’ve been using pesticides. So it's not surprising (although still disturbing) that residues have significantly increased over the past decade. PAN UK’s analysis indicates that pesticide residues in bread alone have more than doubled from 28% in 2001 to 63% in 2013; and the number of samples testing positive for multiple residues have also more than doubled in the last seven years.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

PAN has done a lot to spread the word about neonicotinoid pesticides and their adverse impacts on bees. But there are other repercussions for widespread use of neonics too, as an increasing number of studies highlight. Adverse impacts on wild pollinators, birds and other wildlife from neonics have also been in the news lately.

Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, finding their way into ecosystems through water, soil and insects other species rely on for food. These chemicals were released onto the U.S. market without regulators fully understanding their impacts, and scientists continue to uncover more unintended consequences — from harming honey bees to song birds.