GroundTruth Blog

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

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

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 A few weeks ago, a draft law emerged in the Senate to overhaul the dramatically outdated national rules that govern "industrial chemicals" — aka the thousands of impossible-to-pronounce ingredients in everyday products, from household cleaners to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 blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

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 blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

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.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

The hearing room in Salinas was brimming with people concerned about fumigant pesticides on Monday night. Dozens of concerned residents, farmworkers and farmers showed up to press state officials to protect this Central Coast community from the volatile fumigant chloropicrin — and to make good on the promise of safer strawberry fields.

Salinas is in the heart of strawberry country, so the issue hits especially close to home. Californians are speaking out at such hearings across the state throughout the month of June, submitting written testimony and sharing stories of how they've been affected by fumigant pesticides.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

The Senate is in recess this week, but they'll be resuming Farm Bill debate on Monday. The bill will be pared down in the coming days, and PAN and partners are working hard to ensure that key policies that support healthy food, farming and communities are included in the final law.

Among the many amendments up for consideration, three rise to the top of our priority list. These provisions take steps to protect honey bees and support farmers who put smart practices in place to protect our shared air, soil and water. This is our once-every-five-years opportunity to get food and farming policy back on track.

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

Two million people, over 400 cities, more than 50 countries. These numbers from organizers of the May 25th global “March against Monsanto” tell the story of a tide that is turning fast and hard against one of the greatest corporate villains of our time. From Tokyo to Turku, from Tallahassee to Tasmania, people spanning six continents came out to declare “Enough!”

The global response witnessed this past weekend is a powerful rebuke not only to Monsanto, but also to the U.S. State Department which has aggressively pushed a self-described “active biotech agenda” in over 100 countries. And the lengths to which the State Department has gone to promote Monsanto’s interests have been charted in a new Food & Water Watch exposé.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Regulators across the pond are keeping up the momentum to protect pollinators, with a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adding fipronil to the list of bee-harming pesticides the agency is concerned about.

Earlier this year, EFSA raised the alarm about three other insecticides that pose a threat to bees. And the EU responded with a two-year ban on the use of those chemicals. We have yet to see if fipronil will be added to the list of restricted pesticides, but EFSA's conclusion signals that protections for bees are more likely.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Don't do it, Senators. Yet again, an attempt is in the works to roll back protections of our streams and rivers — along with the critters who live in them and communities that rely on them — from harmful pesticides.

This time the push to weaken our national water law takes the form of two nearly identical amendments to the Senate's version of the Farm Bill (#1100 and #1103). The rollback effort first showed up as a proposed amendment to the China Currency Bill (no really!) in the fall of 2011. It's since been introduced several times as a stand-alone law, and showed up in a coordinated media push by conservative lawmakers. This is a bad idea that needs to be shut down once and for all.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

This week the Wall Street Journal took note of a trend farmers have understood for years: Monsanto's Bt corn, genetically modified to protect the plants from rootworm, is no longer working. And as a result, many farmers are now rapidly ramping up use of insecticides to protect their crops.

This is not unexpected. When Bt corn was introduced back in 1995, PAN joined organic growers in raising the alarm about the long term impacts of the technology. Widespread and continuous use of Bt meant the development of resistance was inevitable, and organic farmers knew this meant one of their most effective pest control tools would be rendered useless.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In a welcome turn, USDA announced last week that it will take a closer look at new genetically engineered (GE) crops before allowing them on the market. The approval of Dow's 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy, as well as Monsanto's dicamba-resistant soy and cotton, will be put on hold until Environmental Impact Statements are completed.

The decision to conduct a more thorough investigation comes after public outcry from hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals — including farmers. Because if approved, these GE crops will drive a dramatic increase in pesticide use, placing the burden of both increased costs and health risks on farmers and rural communities.