GroundTruth Blog

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

Margaret Reeves's picture

Each year we mark Valentine's Day by urging people to remember the workers who make those gorgeous bouquets of roses possible. I'm very pleased to report that this year, we're finally seeing some real progress toward safer conditions — and more protections from pesticides — for farmworkers across the country.

Just this week, 52 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA urging the agency to make sure that the long-awaited improvements in the federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS) are meaningful and promptly completed. So after you buy (or enjoy a gift of) cut flowers this week, keep an eye out here for upcoming opportunities to support better safety rules for the farmworkers who toiled to grow and harvest that bouquet.

Margaret Reeves's picture

Phew! After a long, arduous two-and-a-half year process, we finally have a Farm Bill. The bill, approved recently in both the House and Senate, now goes to President Obama for near-certain approval. Unfortunately, as we reported last week after the House vote, the new law is a real mixed bag.

On the plus side, support is up for local and regional food systems; farmers must conserve soil and water if they want help paying for crop insurance; and more insurance options are now available for organic farmers. On the minus side, food stamp funding was slashed; Congress failed miserably to rein in huge payments to millionaire farmers; and conservation funding was reduced for the first time since the program began in 1985.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

A recent study links exposure to the insecticide DDT to Alzhiemer’s disease. According to the study, even exposure to DDT decades ago may lead to a person developing the disease later in life.

DDT — a World War II-era pesticide used extensively in the U.S. until it was banned in 1972 — accumulates in people’s bodies and persists for decades. Alzeimer's joins a long list of associated health harms.

Emily Marquez's picture

Earlier this week, the industrial agriculture-backed Alliance for Food and Farming launched a new effort to challenge organic farming. And a few days ago, an article was posted on Slate underscoring many of the same points — challenging the benefits of organic food and farming, and downplaying the harms of pesticides to children.

We wholeheartedly agree with the Slate article author that eating fruits and veggies is important to children's health. But as I noted in a media statement yesterday, the fruits and vegetables children eat should provide nutrition to their bodies without exposing them to health harms that can last a lifetime. 

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) continue to gain notoriety as a driving factor in declining bee populations. But a mounting body of evidence also shows that neonics aren’t the only class of pesticides harming these critical pollinators.

A report released this week — by researchers from Penn State and the University of Florida — helps build a case that several pesticides commonly found in hives kill bee larvae.

Paul Towers's picture

The Hawai'i State Capitol in Honolulu is currently swarming with pesticide industry lobbyists. Upset that several counties are taking steps to curb corporate control of island farm land and pesticide use, Monsanto & Co. are attempting to strip authority away from local governments.

Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate — quickly dubbed the “Hawai'i Monsanto Protection Acts” — have pesticide industry fingerprints all over them. They were introduced last week in an apparent attempt to undermine legislation recently passed (or in progress) on several islands. In response, thousands of residents marched in Honolulu yesterday. Their message? Protecting pesticide industry interests over the health and well-being of communities is unacceptable.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

At long last we have a Farm Bill. And while it includes much-needed programs that will strengthen local food systems and support smart, healthy farming practices, this legislation is far from perfect.

Eleventh-hour changes — behind closed doors — stripped the bill of some important reforms that had already been agreed upon by both the House and Senate. Now, after a two-and-a-half year process that left too many farmers without a safety net along the way, the House is expected to pass a Farm Bill by noon Wednesday, then send it along to the Senate for approval.

Medha Chandra's picture

As another spring planting season nears in California, I'm beginning to worry. Not just about the rain, but about all the kids and communities who could be harmed by pesticides drifting from agricultural fields. These same chemicals — year after year — end up as pesticide residues on our food.

Chlorpyrifos is one of these worrisome pesticides. The California Department of Pesticide Regulations or DPR has taken barely any action on this brain-harming chemical. Today, a group of public health and environmental groups are sending a letter to DPR officials urging them to stop stalling, and act to protect California’s kids today. Please join us in urging DPR to move!

Pesticide Action Network's picture

The new year started with promises of long overdue Congressional action on the Farm Bill. Some sticking points are still being negotiated, but it now looks likely that the House and Senate versions of the bill will be reconciled in the coming weeks.

The process for passing a full, five-year Farm Bill — the law that sets our national priorities for food and farming — has been dragging on for quite some time. If the House and Senate conferees can reach agreement in the next week or two, action will quickly shift to the floor of Congress for an "up or down" vote on a final bill. In these last stages of negotiation, we continue to push hard for a law that supports healthy food and farm economies.

Paul Towers's picture

With recent news that USDA intends to greenlight new pesticide-promoting crops, farmers across the country are calling on Monsanto’s shareholders — owners of the world’s largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seeds — to change business as usual.

Facing risks to their health and livelihood from herbicide-resistant crops coming down the pike, farmers will speak directly to shareholders at Monsanto's annual gathering of investors in St. Louis next Tuesday. The request to shareholders? Pass a resolution requiring the corporation to accurately report the risk associated with increased exposure to their pesticides.