GroundTruth Blog

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

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

I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was startled by the public uproar over Dow AgroScience’s application for approval of its controversial new GE corn, designed to be used with the infamous and highly hazardous weedkiller, 2,4-D.

By quietly opening the public comment period on December 21, 2011, the agency had apparently hoped to slide this one by without attracting public attention. Instead, a vocal and growing movement of people from all walks of life has emerged to challenge the Big 6 pesticide/biotech companies’ introduction of this new generation of toxic pesticide-seed combinations.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Today, PAN released water sampling results from communities across four Midwestern states — Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota — that indicate atrazine is present in drinking water at levels well above those linked to birth defects and low birth weight.

Exposure to this common herbicide and potent endocrine disruptor can also increase risk of several types of cancer, including ovarian and thyroid.

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

Media are all atwitter about a new Nature study by researchers at McGill University and the University of Minnesota that compares organic and conventional yields from 66 studies and over 300 trials. In extrapolating the study's findings to the charged question of how to feed the world, more than a few got it all wrong.

The core finding of the study is that “yield differences [between organic and conventional] are highly contextual, depending on system and site characteristics.” In other words, sometimes organic does better, sometimes conventional does. In fact, the sheer variety of comparisons led Mother Jones columnist Tom Philpott to observe that the study “like a good buffet… offered something for every taste.” 

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Last week, the Chinese government officially announced that the country will phase out use of Syngenta's paraquat, an herbicide linked to Parkinson's, cancer and reduced fertility.

The official announcement stated that the ban had been imposed "in order to protect the health and safety of the people" and gave a phaseout timeline of four years.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

On Tuesday, 971,126 signatures were delivered to county registrars throughout California in support of a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Ninety-three percent of Americans say they want to know when they are eating GE food. With up to 80% of the non-organic products on our shelves containing GE ingredients, and little-to-no studies on their long term health effects, people across the country are concerned. And people in California are demanding the right to know.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

When a pregnant woman is exposed to low levels of a commonly used pesticide, the architecture of her developing infant's brain may be irreversibly damaged. This according to researchers who for the first time used MRI testing to see structural evidence of harm from exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos during fetal development.

Researchers report that the changes in brain structure they observed were consistent with the learning and developmental effects (including reduced IQs) that have been linked to chlorpyrifos. The effects were observed at exposure levels well below those considered harmful by EPA.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

For more than 50 years, Dow Chemical Company and Shell Oil knowingly included a highly toxic waste chemical in their fumigant pesticide products, rather than paying to dispose of it properly. The chemical, 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP), is a known carcinogen.

TCP is considered a "garbage" chemical because it is a by-product of the plastics manufacturing process — it is not intentionally produced. By including TCP in their fumigants, which are widely used in California to kill nematodes, Dow and Shell Oil contaminated drinking water in communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Several cities are now suing both companies for cleanup costs.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

If we set our minds to it, we can turn back the rising tide of autism. But it will take the courage to embrace the following common-sense goal, in both policy and practice: Expecting parents and young children should not take in chemical contaminants that are known to harm developing minds.

This week, scientists released a list of exactly which contaminants we're talking about. The top 10 chemicals contributing to autism and learning disabilities include commonly used pesticides, as well as chemicals found in many consumer products. The scientists tell us the list is likely to grow. But for now, it's time to act on what we know.

Abou Thiam's blog
By Abou Thiam,

Today, on April 25th, we celebrate World Malaria Day. It’s an opportunity to reflect on a serious disease that still affects far too many of the world’s poor. For Africans like myself, it is also an opportunity to highlight an on-the-ground perspective of how best to control malaria.

We've seen that the most effective strategies don't rely on chemical solutions, but on a comprehensive set of tools like biological control of disease vectors, environmental management, individual protections and public health education.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Last week was a busy one for Sofía Gatica. On Monday, she won the global Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts to protect her children and neighbors from pesticides. On Wednesday, she asked President Obama to investigate Monsanto’s “pesticide poisonings and livelihood harms” in her community and beyond.

It makes perfect sense. After all, both the genetically engineered soy beans that now surround her small Argentine community — and the herbicide those beans are designed to withstand — were produced and aggressively marketed  by a company based right here in the U.S. In St. Louis, Missouri, to be precise.