GroundTruth Blog

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

Heather Pilatic's picture

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 picture

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 picture

“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 picture

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.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

When the strawberry fumigant methyl iodide was taken off the U.S. market last March, pesticidemaker Arysta continued to promote the use of the cancer-causing chemical in other countries.

In coordination with partners around the world, PAN is now working hard to ensure methyl iodide is also removed from the global market. Last month, PAN International sent a letter to EPA calling on the agency to restrict the export of methyl iodide to other countries.

Medha Chandra's picture

A new study from neurologists at UCLA adds to the growing scientific evidence showing an ever stronger link between exposure to pesticides and development of Parkinson’s disease.

This latest study documents how the fungicide benomyl triggers a cascade of events at the cellular level that increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s. The researchers say the findings clarify the role of naturally occurring enzymes in the brain, and may help in efforts to slow progression of the disease — even among those not exposed to pesticides. The study also confirms that avoiding pesticide exposure can only help.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Children living near banana farms in Costa Rica face widespread exposure to the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos — at levels EPA would consider unsafe.

In a study measuring a chlorpyrifos biomarker in children's bodies, researchers found that nearly 100% of the samples exceeded the EPA safety limits set with children's safety in mind. Urine samples were taken from kids living near banana plantations or plantain farms in the Talamanca region.

Margaret Reeves's picture

New Year's Eve proved disastrous for farmers, consumers and the environment. That was the day Congress kicked the Farm Bill can down the road, failing to pass a new five-year law with much needed reforms and improvements — or even the reasonable short-term extension that was on the table.

Instead, legislators passed an awful nine-month extension as part of the "fiscal cliff" bargain. The bill includes no reform of huge payments to the big commodity crops, no disaster assistance and no extension of funding for a range of important programs — from farmers markets to rural micro-enterprise to organic research. The silver lining? We now have nine months to push for a decent Farm Bill that keeps what's working and reforms what's broken. We're rolling up our sleeves.

Judy Hatcher's picture

A word that comes up over and over in our work is community. I’ve been reflecting on various physical and virtual communities here at PAN, and the ways in which our lives and aspirations are woven together around our shared goals.

Looking at PAN’s accomplishments over the past year, I’m feeling deeply grateful to each and every person in these communities — including you. Be they a handful of people or hundreds of thousands with common concerns, these overlapping communities provide the inspiration and the muscle we need to transform corporate and government systems.

Margaret Reeves's picture

The adage "we are what we eat" supports  food and nutrition education programs across the country. The same goes for the farm — production of an abundant diversity of healthy crops depends on healthy soil and crop management techniques.

Farmers aren't born knowing how to do this, they learn. They learn from each other, and through programs like USDA's new soil health initiative. This is why we're working hard to make sure the next Farm Bill is a strong one that supports innovative farmer education.