GroundTruth Blog

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

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Pesticide giant Syngenta kicked off 2013 by writing checks to communities whose water supplies have been contaminated with their endocrine-disrupting herbicide, atrazine.

According to the Associated Press, the money will go to community water systems that serve more than 37 million Americans in all, mostly in farming states — including Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio — where atrazine has been commonly used to control weeds in corn fields.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Last week, the European Commission announced its position against the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid insecticides, urging nations within the European Union (EU) to impose a two-year suspension on their use. Great news for bees across the pond.

But here in the U.S., policymakers aren't stepping up. EPA officials are continuing to ignore the emerging body of science that point to pesticides, and especially neonicotinoid insecticides, as a critical factor in bee declines. What's worse, the agency is poised to approve yet another bee-harming pesticide.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Frogs exposed to commonly used pesticides in the lab had mortality rates between 40-100%, according to a new study in Germany. One fungicide, when applied at doses approved for use, caused frogs to die within an hour.

The new study provides strong support for earlier research pointing to pesticide exposure as a contributor to the global decline of amphibians, a disturbing trend that has puzzled researchers for years. Like canaries in a coal mine, frogs are often considered a "sentinel" species — and declines may be an early warning of broader harms.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

New research shows that men exposed to certain agricultural pesticides are more likely to develop "aggressive" forms of prostate cancer. This latest news confirms earlier findings linking pesticide exposure with this type of cancer, which is the third most common cause of cancer death among males.

The recent study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at exposure data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) and cancer incidence information from state registries. The numbers showed that workers in Iowa and North Carolina exposed to certain organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides had significantly higher prostate cancer risk.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In good news for farmers and communities across the country, Dow announced last week that it is no longer planning to market its 2,4-D corn for the 2013 planting season.

The new genetically engineered (GE) seed has spurred strong opposition from farmers, consumers and public health officials, and the widespread concern seems to have slowed approval of the product. Organic and conventional farmers alike are worried about damage to their crops from 2,4-D drift; they also cite health risks to their families, especially their children who are particularly vulnerable to the chemical.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

As we honor Martin Luther King's legacy this month, we also mark the third anniversary of Citizens United v FEC. This landmark Supreme Court decision essentially declared corporations to be people, opening the floodgates for unlimited political corporate contributions, and changing the face of election campaigns.

Citizen's United v. FEC undid over a century of campaign finance reforms, and the effects of the decision were clearly evident in the November elections. One clear example was the opposition to California's Proposition 37 — an initiative to label genetically engineered (GE) food in the state — which was almost entirely funded by corporations. Contributions totaled 46 million dollars.

Heather Pilatic's blog
By Heather Pilatic,

Earlier this week the European Food Safety Association issued a report concluding that neonicotinoids ("neonics") pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied are fatally flawed.  

...which is exactly what we've been saying since 2010, when we publicized the "leaked memo" showing that EPA has allowed clothianidin (a neonicotinoid) to remain on the market despite the absence of any solid science demonstrating the chemical's safety for bees. Last spring, PAN conducted our own evaluation of the state of the science on pesticides and bees and reached many of the same conclusions outlined in EFSA's comprehensive review of the science (see their full report). The science is not the surprise here. 

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

President Obama faces a profound decision as he considers who will step into Lisa Jackson's shoes. Over the past decade, EPA has become a lightening rod for the heated partisan debate about the size and role of government. The agency has also come to serve as a rhetorical punching bag for those determined to pit environmental protection against economic growth.

The next EPA leader's stance on these big picture issues will inform decisions with very "small picture" impacts, decisions that will directly affect the health and well being of families across the country. From tackling pesticides in our air, water and food to what we do about energy and climate change challenges, this choice will matter. Hugely.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

“We’re facing the extinction of a species.” That’s what one Midwest-based large-scale commercial beekeeper told me last week at the annual gathering of the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). And he meant it.

Bee losses have been dramatic, especially in recent years. And beekeepers are feeling the sting. According to many who manage hives, commercial beekeeping won’t pencil out in the future unless things change, and soon.

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

Twitter-land was abuzz last week with news that a formerly ardent critic of genetic engineering (GE) has recanted his position. Mark Lynas gave a long mea culpa speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, in which he apologized to the world for tearing up GE crops back in the day, and for what he described as his “anti-science environmentalism.”

Unfortunately, Lynas then went on to ignore the weight of scientific evidence (more on that below). He claimed that GE crop production is good for biodiversity and necessary to feed the world, that organic farming is bad, and that “there is no reason at all why avoiding chemicals should be better for the environment.” He then quickly slammed the door shut on public debate, pronouncing “discussion over.” Many of us in the global scientific community were left shaking our heads, bemused if disappointed in Lynas’ anti-science rhetorical flourishes.