GroundTruth Blog

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

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.

Linda Wells's blog
By Linda Wells,

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the much anticipated Monsanto v. Bowman case, addressing whether the corporation's patent protections extend past the initial sale and use of their RoundUp-Ready seeds. Unfortunately the justices landed on the side of Monsanto, reaffirming the stranglehold corporations have on seeds — and our food system.

I had hoped the Supreme Court might finally draw a line in the sand, placing a limitation on Monsanto's long string of successful legal suits against farmers. But, following the trend, the justices sided with Monsanto and upheld the $84,456 judgement against farmer Vernon Bowman.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

I am neither a farmer nor an octogenarian, yet images of the disastrous U.S. dust bowl of the 1930s are forever etched in my memory. What I am is a mom, who is well aware of how children's health is linked to the food our kids eat — in all kinds of ways. And these two things are are inextricably linked through our food system, and the policies that shape it.

How farmers treat the soil and how they grow and market our food determines, in the big picture, the health of our children. The choices farmers have and the decisions they make are strongly influenced by government policies — policies that are being crafted this week as the Farm Bill moves forward on Capitol Hill. 

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

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 blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

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 blog
By Medha Chandra,

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 blog
By Chela Vazquez,

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 blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

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.