GroundTruth Blog

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

Linda Wells's blog
By Linda Wells,

Seed and chemical giant DuPont just hired a fleet of ex-police officers to patrol the farmlands of North America.

The second-largest seed company used to rely on their partner/competitor Monsanto to play the industry ‘bad cop’ when it came to seed policing. But now DuPont executives have made it clear that they are not afraid to make some enemies as they protect the company's intellectual property interests in genetically engineered seeds. And they've hired an "agro-protection" company staffed by former police officers to do it.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Sixty-four years ago today, on a cold winter morning in Paris, delegates from around the world came together to adopt an historic document that was soon to become the foundation of international human rights law: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR has since become the most widely recognized and accepted human rights contract in history.

Adopted in 1948, the UDHR has been the foundation for an entire body of international human rights treaties, both binding and voluntary. For decades, it has inspired local and global efforts to hold human rights violators accountable — including PAN’s Permanent People’s Tribunal on violations perpetrated by the Big 6 pesticide corporations, held late last year.

Medha Chandra's blog
By Medha Chandra,

This week we mark the International Week of No Pesticide Use, which honors victims of pesticide poisonings across the world. A week which I wish did not need to exist.

Unfortunately, the problem is very real. According to the World Health Organization, 25 million farmworkers experience episodes of pesticide poisoning in the Global South every year. A new report by PAN Germany highlights this and other sobering facts, illustrating how pesticides continue to harm millions across the globe — and making a compelling case that it's time for real change.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

On the heels of last week's strong report from pediatricians highlighting the harms pesticides can cause children's developing minds, a new study finds that pesticides are clearly harming adult brains, too.

In the "meta-analysis" published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, scientists reviewed 14 separate studies of neurobehavioral changes linked to low-level organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure. They found that workers exposed to OPs — particularly over long periods of time — had reduced working memory and were slower to process information.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

It makes no sense. FDA's decision this week to allow continued use of the neurotoxic pesticide lindane in children's lice shampoos has me completely stumped.

The pesticide's use in pet products were withdrawn long ago. Then agricultural uses were pulled, back in 2006. Yet FDA just re-blessed the lindane products that put children most directly at risk, shampoos applied to their heads and lotions to their bodies. These products have been banned for years in dozens of countries — including by our neighbors in Mexico — and in California since 2001. What is FDA thinking??

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

When a child’s health is on the line, moms will often stand up in truly courageous ways. Like the mothers in the small, rural community of Lindsay, California who were concerned about how pesticides were affecting their children.

These central valley moms enrolled in a project back in 2006 to monitor how much chlorpyrifos — a commonly used insecticide — was drifting into their homes from nearby fields and orchards, using a simple “Drift Catcher” tool. They also signed up for biomonitoring, a way to find out how much of that pesticide was then making it into their bodies, and likely also into the bodies of their children.

Kathryn Gilje's blog
By Kathryn Gilje,

A critical and devastating new study confirms a link between certain work — farming and vegetable canning included — and an elevated risk of breast cancer. The research was conducted in southern Ontario, and for me, this news hits close to home.

I was raised in Minnesota, and lived on a small farm just fifteen miles from a vegetable canning factory. When reading this study, I immediately thought of Lily, a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer in her late twenties. She and her mother Lidia spent over a decade working in the vegetable canning factory after coming to Minnesota as migrant farmworkers. I vividly remember the desperation and grief in Lidia's voice when she told me the news of Lily's cancer.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In a new report and policy statement released yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highlighted the harmful effects of pesticides on children, and urged government action.

AAP points to the growing body of scientific evidence linking pesticide exposure to children's health harms, focusing in on harms to the developing nervous system and increased risk of some childhood cancers. The pediatrician group’s findings and recommendations are similar to those highlighted by PAN's A Generation in Jeopardy report released last month.

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

Over last week’s Thanksgiving holiday, many Americans will have paused to savor the blessings of health, family and community. Some of us will have binged on too much turkey and consumption-crazed Black Friday sales. But for the world’s biggest pesticide and seed biotech companies, the entire year has been one long feeding frenzy. This frenzy culminated in recent months in a multi-billion dollar spending spree in which, reports Bloomberg, three of the "Big 6" pesticide companies (Syngenta, Bayer and BASF) together shelled out over two billion dollars to acquire biopesticide and other “green product” companies.  

Concerns over corporate "greenwashing" notwithstanding, the larger issue here is a new frontier of market-making and corporate consolidation from the people who brought us "DDT is good for me" commercials. 

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

EPA recently reviewed the links between mothers’ exposure to pesticides during pregnancy and children's health outcomes, highlighting recent findings in its online newsletter Science Matters. The article, entitled "Mothers Matter: Looking for a Healthy Start," presents the latest science linking prenatal exposure with reduced birth weight and disrupted brain and nervous system development, among other health harms.

It’s very good that EPA is explicitly communicating science, with the implicit intent to change policy. What’s still missing is pesticide use policies that are adequately protective of children’s health. We're hopeful this could be changing.