GroundTruth Blog

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

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

I’ve been an earthworm fan for decades. At my Oakland, California home I dump vegetable scraps into a big plastic bin with worms. Once or twice a year I collect incredibly rich worm compost, teaming with roly-poly bugs (isopods), worms — and billions of critters I can’t see. My garden plants love it, and it’s free.

In agricultural soils, worms (different kinds, but worms nevertheless) can contribute significantly to soil respiration with a direct and sharp increase in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released, as the number and length of worm canals increases. It turns out this soil respiration is critical to plant health.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Should parents, families and teachers be warned when hazardous and volatile pesticides are used next door? That was the question before a panel of experts in California last week. Their answer may provide the basis for critical new rules for use of pesticide fumigants, and any neighbor’s right to know.

Fumigant pesticides are a problem for the Golden State. They are highly volatile, likely to drift and linked to a wide range of health impacts, including cancer. Yet every year, over 40 million pounds of these soil-sterilizing chemicals are used on California fields.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In the first study of its kind, researchers have linked pesticide residues on food with poor semen quality. The new study adds to a growing body of evidence tying very low-level chemical exposures with reproductive and other health harms.

Scientists from Harvard University's School of Public Health found that men who ate fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues had fewer normal sperm and a lower sperm count than men who ate produce with lower residue levels.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Each year at the end of March we join partners across the country celebrating National Farmworker Awareness Week, a nationwide event honoring farmworkers and their families. The celebration culminates today, on Cesar Chavez Day.

A week set aside to raise awareness about the more than two million workers who plant, tend and harvest our food is a wonderful opportunity. This year, we invite you to explore — and share — the great resources below as National Farmworker Awareness Week (#NFAW) wraps up.

Emily Marquez's blog
By Emily Marquez,

Last fall PAN partnered with Justin Matlow, a concerned parent and teacher in the heart of California's strawberry-growing country, to monitor for pesticide drift. Today — to mark Cesar Chavez day — we joined Justin, farmworker advocates and other community partners to release our findings.

What do the data tell us? In short, our Drift Catcher project found that when the cancer-causing pesticide chloropicrin was being applied in a nearby field, concentrations in the air near Justin's Watsonville home were at or above levels considered "of concern" by both state and federal agencies. For the sake of thousands of California families living near strawberry fields, we hope the regulators are paying attention.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

A few months into the Minnesota legislative session, things are starting to get exciting. In the midst of the flurry of hearings, amendments and hallway conversations that make Minnesota politics happen, there’s cause for celebration for bees at the Capitol.

This week, three members of the Minnesota House of Representatives introduced a bill that would suspend the use of neonicotinoids and fipronil — systemic insecticides that are among the driving factors behind bee declines.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In Iowa, two proposed laws would have provided support to farmers facing crop damage from drifting herbicides, and improved reporting and regulations around drift. While the laws were introduced this session, they will not be moving forward but the Iowa Farmers Union (IFU), PAN and other coalition partners have put the drift issue front and center on the legislative agenda in Des Moines.

A statewide, farmer-led coalition supporting these bills are asking for things like improved liability insurance and more readily available information about pesticide use and drift incidents. These are important pieces of legislation for small farmers growing healthy, local food for Iowa communities.

Judy Hatcher's blog
By Judy Hatcher,

A song's been running through my head for several days now: Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves.

This International Women's History Month, I've been thinking about how women around the world are "standing on their own two feet, and ringin' on their own bells" on behalf of a fair, safe and sustainable global food system.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

It's been a big week for honey bees! Yesterday, “bee kind Obama” and “save our bees” chants echoed at a rally on Pennsylvania Avenue, as our national coalition delivered more than four million (!!) signatures to White House. The petition calls on President Obama's pollinator task force to step up and take action on bee-harming pesticides. And soon.

The rally comes on the heels of Monday's delivery of a letter to the White House officials signed by more than 125 diverse groups calling for stronger protections for bees and other pollinators. Signers included conservation, beekeeping, food safety, religious and farming advocacy organizations.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Here they go again. Congress is once again considering “fast track” approval of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Fast track means no public hearings, no floor debate, no amendments — no civic engagement whatsoever.

The stakes are high. The TPP would be the largest trade deal in history, covering 792 million people and about 40% of the world’s economy. If fast track is approved, rules affecting food and farming — among many other sectors — will be negotiated completely behind closed doors.