GroundTruth Blog

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

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Honey bees are up against a lot these days, no thanks to a lack of action from EPA. And new data released today adds to the growing list of concerns for pollinators: home garden plants that come pre-treated with bee-harming pesticides.

In a pilot study released today by the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth, the groups tested plants from major home garden stores across the country, and found that more than half of the samples contained pesticides at levels shown to harm or kill bees.

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

Early in July, Monsanto rolled out the red carpet for farm media in North Dakota, promoting its new, yet highly controversial, herbicide-resistant genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Touted at an industry field day in Cass County, these new soybean seeds are designed to be used with the volatile herbicide, dicamba — a close cousin of 2,4-D.

Dicamba-resistant soy is still awaiting USDA approval, as are 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy. And after receiving hundreds of thousands of comments opposing the approval of these crops, the agency recently extended its decision-making timeline. Despite the outcry, however, Monsanto has plowed full speed ahead, planting and spraying these crops in large, field-sized “Ground-Breaker” demonstration plots in North and South Dakota and in research plots in undisclosed locations.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Last month, the House passed a Farm Bill stripped of the program that provides assistance for those who can't afford food. But this country needs a fair food and farm policy, for everyone. And we need it now.

As legislators are wrestling with how to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill, PAN joins more than 300 organizations around the country calling on Congress to pass a full and fair Farm Bill — before the old one expires on September 30.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Health professionals from across Kaua’i are drawing attention to the growing use of hazardous pesticides on the Garden Island. Nurses, pediatricians and other health care practitioners testified before the Kaua’i County Council yesterday, urging leaders to adopt legislation that would better protect the island’s residents, especially children. But global pesticide corporations won’t swallow that pill so easily.

The small island has drawn increasing attention, as it has become an epicenter of operations for global pesticide corporations testing genetically engineered (GE) seeds. As I’ve noted before, the county bill would take steps to provide physicians and families with better information about the pesticides used, including a pesticide use registry.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

It’s been more than two years since EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel reprimanded the agency for lowballing the cancer risks of atrazine — including risks of childhood cancer. Now EPA is finally taking another look at this widely used herbicide.

Atrazine is found in most of our drinking water — about 94%, according to government sampling. And this month, EPA officials start taking another look at the health and environmental harms of Syngenta’s flagship herbicide. With exposure so widespread, it’s hugely important that they get it right.

Marjo Busto's blog
By Marjo Busto,

Every day, rural women in Asia face mounting challenges caused by an increasingly broken system of food and agriculture. High food prices, low income, land grabbing, climate change and decreasing control over seeds mark the experiences of the women farmers who grow much of the region's food.

Our Stories, One Journey: Empowering Rural Women in Asia is a traveling journal, recording the thoughts of eight rural women for 10 days in eight different countries. The women write, draw and compose poetry and songs. Their message is simple: help transform agriculture into a more equitable, fair and sustainable system.

Linda Wells's blog
By Linda Wells,

In our modern, chemical-filled world, many parents are constantly guarding their kids against exposure to pesticides and other potential health threats. Today I want to shine the light on just one of those hardworking parents: a mom named Andrea Stish.

Andrea recently moved to Rochester, Minnesota with her husband and their toddler. Since then, Andrea has been working tirelessly to protect her daughter from pesticides at city parks and in their own neighborhood. Now she's taking her case to city officials, calling for a commitment to pesticide-free parks and playgrounds to protect all the city's kids.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Seven years. Scientists tell us that's the window in the first years of life when children are most vulnerable to pesticide harms. That's also exactly how long EPA has — so far — delayed putting rules in place to protect kids from pesticides that drift from agricultural fields.

Bottom line? While regulators think about what to do, an entire generation of rural kids has experienced increased risk of harms that can last a lifetime. Health risks from early life pesticide exposure are very real, and can be serious. Science points to falling IQs, ADHD, learning disabilities, birth defects and, in some cases, cancer. That's why this week, we're taking EPA to court for being too darn slow.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Late Tuesday afternoon, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a long-awaited bill to place a moratorium on bee-harming pesticides. The "Save America's Pollinators Act" would require EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides off the market until fully reviewed by independent scientists and proven safe for pollinators.

EPA's current review of these pesticides is due to conclude in 2018, with an action plan to be implemented sometime thereafter. Meanwhile, bees continue to die off in droves — and scientific evidence highlighting neonics as a key factor continues to mount. Bees need help now, and the Conyers-Blumenauer bill provides them an immediate reprieve from neonic exposures.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Update 7/18/13: After months of delay, Gina McCarthy was confirmed as the new head of EPA today. See this media statement for more details.

We hear the Senate will take up the confirmation of EPA's new leader next week. As we wait on the final vote, I've been thinking about what I'd say to Administrator-to-be Gina McCarthy if I had a chance to take her out for coffee and a chat as she gets ready to step into her new role.

Three things come to mind. First, I'd urge her to have the agency do a much, much better job following the science. Second, when that science points to human health or environmental harms, she needs to move fast — no dawdling allowed. And third, I'd remind her just exactly who she'll be working for. Because even though they don’t show up in suits on EPA’s doorstep every day (like the industry reps do), it's the nation's children she'll answer to in the end.