GroundTruth Blog

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

Paul Towers's picture

Last week, Swiss-based pesticide corporation Syngenta dumped tens of thousands of dollars into a county election in Southern Oregon. Sound familiar? It should. Still reeling from their recent defeat in Kaua'i, Syngenta and the rest of the "Big 6" don’t want to lose any more fights around pesticides and GMOs.

But Oregononians are holding their ground. Led by a group of farmers dubbed Our Family Farms Coalition, these residents put an initiative on the ballot that would restrict the planting of genetically engineered crops. The vote will be on May 20.

Linda Wells's picture

Are you ready for spring? For most of us, that means house cleaning and a welcome wardrobe change. But for farmers and other rural residents it means hard work and often, bracing for the impact of pesticide drift. It means waiting to see if their crops will be damaged, and guessing which days they'll have to keep the kids indoors.

PAN is ready, and so are more rural residents. Late last month I traveled with my colleagues Emily Marquez and Lex Horan through Iowa and Minnesota certifying people to use a simple tool to monitor pesticide drift. We won't be able to stop the drift from coming this spring, but we'll be gathering important, on-the-ground data to help strengthen state and federal pesticide rules. 

Kristin Schafer's picture

Each year we mark national Autism Awareness Month with an update on how many children officials say are now on the autism spectrum. We highlight the latest science linking prenatal pesticide exposure to increased risk. And we make an urgent pitch to shift from awareness to prevention.

Well, once again the numbers are up. CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are now on the autism spectrum, up from 1 in 88 in 2008 and 1 in 150 "way back" in 2002. And once again, new science links certain chemical exposures to derailed fetal brain development — with an ever clearer understanding of how the damage is done. The good news? When it comes to talking prevention, there's been real progress.

Paul Towers's picture

On Cesar Chavez Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered a slap in the face to that day’s namesake. Five years after PAN and partners challenged the agency’s lack of protections for children from drifting pesticides — and eight years after Congress passed a law requiring it — the agency yet again failed to take any substantive action.

Frustrated yet? I am. EPA is suggesting it's better to keep pesticides on the market without any new protections, even after acknowledging potentially serious impacts on children. In Monday’s response, EPA stated that “young children may have unique exposures that adults do not have.” And still, the agency has chosen to do next to nothing.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Farmers have been saying it for years: it's nearly impossible to find corn seed that isn't pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. At a Congressional briefing in DC last week, Dr. Christian Krupke of Purdue University presented hard data to support what farmers are reporting: 94% to 98% of corn seed in the U.S. is pre-treated with neonics. This is particularly bad news for pollinators, since we know neonics pose a threat to bees even at low levels.

Dr. Krupke and other scientists have been looking at this issue more closely, and recent studies are showing that neonic seed treatments don't actually add much value to crops. They don't improve yields and don't markedly reduce damage from common pests. The equation doesn't add up. If they harm bees AND don't add much benefit, why are these seed treatments so prevalent?

Medha Chandra's picture

A while ago I blogged about a new EPA rule banning a specific set of super-toxic rat poisons for retail sale to homeowners. The ban was put in place to protect children and pets from the dangers of these rodenticide products. The company that makes them, Reckitt Benckiser, challenged the rule in court.

Well, history repeats itself. When California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently restricted the retail sale of these same super-toxic rat poisons, Reckitt Benckiser, sued DPR as well. This means that while the legal petition winds its slow way through the judicial system, the toxic rodenticides will continue being sold in California.

Judy Hatcher's picture

Update: Be sure to see the new Cesar Chavez biopic, in theaters around the country now. Released in conjuction with Farmworker Awareness Week, it will inspire viewers to support better worker protections and pledge to support responsibly grown food. See the film, then take action —Viva La Causa!

Originally posted March 28, 2013.

As I cross Cesar Chavez Avenue on my way to work each morning, I'm greeted by murals with the visionary labor organizer's portrait. When I reach the PAN office, he smiles down at me from a poster hanging prominently in the hall.

Margaret Reeves's picture

Happy Farmworker Awareness Week! Each year we celebrate this nationwide event by encouraging the PAN community to join us in a variety of actions, from lifting up stories from the field to supporting actions to protect the health of farmworkers and their families. Among the urgent challenge these workers face every day is exposure to harmful pesticides on the job.

Our food system depends on the labor of these more than two million workers, and they depend on our support! This year there’s a lot happening. Topping our list of action opportunities is the fact that EPA has finally proposed much-needed improvements in the national worker safety rules for farmworkers. It's about time!

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard bees continues to grow stronger. Today in DC, PAN joined partners to hand deliver a message from more than half a million people to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: Step up and prioritize protecting bees from harmful pesticides.

Even though independent studies clearly show that neonicotinoid pesticides (or "neonics") are hazardous to bees, EPA won't conclude its review of these chemicals until 2018. Meanwhile, neonics are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. And bee populations continue to decrease at alarming rates.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Crazy weather we’ve been having this winter: monster snowstorms across New England, record-breaking freezes in the Midwest, drought, wildfires (in January!) and weirdly hot days in California. For many farmers across the country and around the world, all this extreme weather — on top of ever-intensifying environmental and economic stresses — is pushing them to their edge.

At the same time, a growing number of farmers and scientists are realizing that 1) continued reliance on the energy, water and chemical-intensive industrial model of agriculture is simply no longer an option and 2) our most robust response to today’s converging stresses lies in cultivating resilience and food democracy.