GroundTruth Blog

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

Kristin Schafer's picture

I'm looking forward to Sunday morning. Breakfast in bed, flowers and chocolate — plus sweet, handmade cards from kids who often don't take the time to say thanks. What's not to like?

But I also like the fact that Mother's Day was actually founded to celebrate moms taking action to protect their children and communities. And it's in that spirit that I'd like to honor all the moms working to keep kids safe from harmful pesticides — from my colleagues here in the PAN office to the thousands of supporters and partners taking action in the U.S. and around the world. You are amazing.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

This week in Geneva, officials from countries around the world met to consider adding the herbicide paraquat to an international treaty on trade of toxic chemicals. Though there was widespread support for the move, two countries — Guatemala and India — managed to get the decision postponed for another two years.

Guatemala is a major exporter of paraquat formulations, and blatantly broke the rules of the Rotterdam Convention by having an industry representative negotiate on their behalf in Geneva. Though Guatemalan officials apologized — and the industry representative was expelled from the session — the damage was done.

Medha Chandra's picture

I have wonderful news to share. Delegates to the Stockholm Convention meeting in Geneva just agreed that the best alternative to the hazardous pesticide endosulfan is agroecology. This is a huge step that PAN and our allies have long pushed for.

The Stockholm Convention listed endosulfan for global phase out back in 2011. The pesticides officially suggested as alternatives were mostly hazardous as well, according to a careful PAN analysis. In an effort led by PAN scientist Dr. Meriel Watts, the Convention reviewed possible non-chemical alternatives, and found that a strong case could be made for ecosystem-based solutions. Late last week, the delegates officially endorsed this approach.

Chela Vazquez's picture

Next week, governments from around the world will decide whether to put strict controls on Syngenta's highly toxic herbicide paraquat — or maintain the status quo.

This pesticide has long been banned in its country of origin, Switzerland, and its use is highly restricted in most industrialized nations, including the U.S. Yet it continues to be sold indiscriminately in developing countries where farmers and workers often cannot read technical labels and are unable to protect themselves from the pesticide's harmful effects.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

In a historic vote on Monday, the European Union (EU) passed a continent-wide restriction on the use of bee-harming pesticides. Despite immense pressure from the pesticide industry, a majority of EU countries sided with bees.

Here in the U.S., policymakers have yet to step up. And with beekeepers in this country reporting record-breaking bee losses this year — up to 40% or more — action to protect honey bees is more urgent than ever.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Last week, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced a national bill to label genetically engineered food.

If passed, the "Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act" making its way through both the House and Senate would ensure GE food is labeled in all 50 states. The national bill reflects the momentum that's been building for GE labeling initiatives in states across the country.

Paul Towers's picture

Last Thursday, I joined about 50 farmworker, health and sustainable farming advocates in Sacramento to cheer California on towards fumigant-free farming. We were there to urge legislators to support new technologies and practices that will make agriculture in the state more sustainable and resilient.

Fumigants are among the most hazardous pesticides on the market, and their continued use threatens the health of California communities. But transitioning away from these chemicals won’t happen if pesticidemakers, and their lobbyists and allies roaming the Capitol's halls, get their way.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

When arch-competitors Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences make a GE seed deal and both come out looking very smug, you have to wonder. When, five days later, Monsanto and Bayer CropScience announce a deal to cross-license their competing GE seed technologies with each other, you should probably start to worry.

What are all these deals about and why should you care? Because these agreements are the latest, most visible way that the Big 6 pesticide/biotech companies are speeding up the consolidation —and their control — of the world’s seed markets.

PAN International's picture

This year, we mark World Malaria Day by highlighting communities here in Africa that are winning the battle against this deadly disease. Locally-led programs from Senegal to Kenya to Ethiopia are employing malaria control methods that are safe for human health and environmentally sustainable. And it's working.

Over the past decade, our organizations — based in West and East Africa — have watched as global malaria control efforts focused in on a small handful of tactics: indoor spraying of insecticides, insecticide treated bed nets, treatment of malaria cases and preventative treatment for pregnant women. We've also seen the resulting rise of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes and resistance to drugs in humans, along with worrisome health impacts of the insecticides being used.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

The U.S. movement to label genetically engineered (GE) foods is gaining ground. More states introduced GE labeling bills this year than ever before. And word from D.C. is that a federal labeling bill will be announced in the next week or so. Whether or not these initiatives pass in 2013, this much seems clear: we will win labeling of GE foods. It’s just a matter of time.

Naturally, the pesticide and biotech industry players have come out swinging with a host of dire but false predictions that food prices will rise and the sky will fall if people are allowed to know what’s in our food. The latest evidence of desperation comes from a long-time GE apologist, who now claims that labeling GE foods in the U.S. will exacerbate world hunger and poverty. Seriously?