GroundTruth Blog

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

Margaret Reeves's picture

Here we go again. After the 2012 fiasco in which Congress failed to pass a Farm Bill at the 11th hour, the Senate rallied early this month to pass its version of the national food and farming legislation — which is up for debate and renewal every five years.

Ten days later, the Farm Bill died again when the House failed to pass its own version of the 2013 bill. It’s not clear exactly what’s up next. But we're rolling up our sleeves — again — to press for the best legislation possible, and we fully hope and expect that Congress will pass a Farm Bill this year. 

Paul Towers's picture

Yesterday, a new bill was introduced in Kaua'i to provide greater transparency and protections from hazardous pesticides being sprayed on the island's ubiquitous GE test fields. Concerned community members were present en masse at the Kaua'i County Council hearing, including a broad coalition of mothers, farmers and teachers who back the bill.

Global pesticidemakers also took yesterday’s hearing seriously, busing employees to testify against the bill. These corporations rely on Hawaii's agricultural land to test their new genetically engineered crops — and the pesticide products designed to be used with GE crops. As a result, local residents are routinely exposed to an array of hazardous pesticides, and the corporations won't disclose which chemicals they're using. People on Kaua'i are saying, "Enough!"

Medha Chandra's picture

Recently authorities in Vietnam discovered that tons of potatoes for sale in the open market in the town of Da Lat were contaminated with residues of a neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos — at levels 16 times higher than the level permitted. Yes, 16 times higher than residues considered ‘safe’ by Vietnamese authorities.

Imagine a Vietnamese child eating potatoes from this lot. My skin crawls as I think about it. These potatoes were imported from China, so that makes me think that there are similarly contaminated potatoes circulating in Chinese markets too. Asian children are not alone in facing exposure to chlorpyrifos, as U.S. children continue to be exposed to chlorpyrifos through the food they eat and — for rural children — through the air they breathe.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Neonicotinoids have been in the news a lot in recent months, and are now widely recognized as a class of insecticides contributing to the dramatic declines in honey bee populations.

Last week, a researcher out of the University of Stirling in the UK released a new study examining other ways “neonics” are impacting the environment. It turns out that the harmful effects of these insecticides are widespread — from birds to earthworms, mammals to aquatic insects.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

What won’t Syngenta do to keep selling atrazine? As science pointing to the harms of the herbicide continues to roll in, Syngenta has resorted to "creative measures" to keep their lucrative product on the U.S. market. We call it corporate bullying.

It's been clear for years that Syngenta is investing heavily in PR efforts and intimidation tactics to support their flagship herbicide — including collecting a dossier on PAN. Now an in-depth report in Environmental Health News, released last week, reveals new details on the extent of Syngenta’s multi-million dollar campaign. Recently released memos and other internal papers document a sweeping, ruthless strategy to launch personal investigations of atrazine’s critics and pay “independent experts” to back the herbicide.

Margaret Reeves's picture

News about Farm Bill deliberations can feel wonky and distant, but the debates and decisions lawmakers are making right now on Capitol Hill matter — a lot.

The House is voting this week on the Farm Bill. Today, they are debating amendments that have made it through the first round. Your representative needs to know that you support key conservation programs, including coordinated federal action on the dramatic honey bee declines reported by beekeepers across the country. Please pick up the phone and call today — you'll find talking points and a phone number below. It's easy, and it will make a difference.

Paul Towers's picture

Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.

This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.

Kristin Schafer's picture

There's a new toxics bill in town. A few weeks ago, a draft law emerged in the Senate to overhaul the dramatically outdated national rules that govern "industrial chemicals" — aka the thousands of impossible-to-pronounce ingredients in everyday products, from household cleaners to couches, water bottles to children's toys.

Major reform of these rules is long overdue, but unfortunately the new bill is problematic. Unless significantly strengthened, it won't do enough to protect the most vulnerable among us — particularly our children — from the harms of toxic chemicals. We can, and must, do better.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

In an unusually bipartisan effort, the Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill Monday with a vote of 66-27. The national farm policy — which comes up every five years for debate — will now be taken up in the House. Republican leadership there said today that it will move forward quickly toward a vote. 

The Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act, a complex 1,150-page bill, largely replaces direct payments to farmers with an expanded crop insurance program that requires conservation compliance. The bill sports two dozen amendments, including several conservation measures that PAN and our partners have pressed hard for. But overall, the news is mixed.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

The surprise appearance of Monsanto’s unapproved GE wheat in an Oregon field last month dominated the “bad GE news” cycle of the day, stoking worries among farmers, millers, bakers and eaters about the extent of the contamination. 

Public outcry and demands to end open-air field testing of experimental GE crops are growing louder. And the discovery of rogue GE wheat in Oregon has driven key trading partners — like Japan and Korea — to suspend some wheat imports. All this exploded just days after millions of people around the world marched against Monsanto, denouncing its control, corruption and contamination of our food systems.