GroundTruth Blog

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

Linda Wells's blog
By Linda Wells,

Things are looking up for opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Although a bill to "fast track" this wide-ranging trade agreement was introduced late last year, opposition to quickly green-lighting the TPP has led Congressional leaders to slow down the process.

Labor and farmer organizations, among many others, have effectively made the case for more transparency before approving what will be the largest international trade agreement to date. And although President Obama is in Japan this week, seeking alignment on key issues within the TPP, it will not likely be signed into law in 2014.

Abou Thiam's blog
By Abou Thiam,

April 25th is World Malaria Day, a time to look back at progress made over the past year in the quest to control this dangerous disease. We also take a look at progress made in the shift toward sustainable, least toxic and effective malaria control tools.

Last year, we marked the day by highlighting on-the-ground successes in Senegal, Kenya and Ethiopia in reducing malaria with community based approaches. This year I join my colleague Dr. Paul Saoke from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Kenya to give our on-the-ground perspective on the path we think malaria control needs to take going forward.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

The last of the late spring snowstorms are winding down here in the Midwest, and it won’t be long before corn goes into the ground. With corn-planting, of course, comes atrazine applications. And though atrazine doesn’t get much use in the colder months, this winter hasn’t been a quiet one for the notorious herbicide and its manufacturer, the Syngenta Corporation.

In the last few months, investigative reporters in the U.S. and Canada have highlighted Syngenta’s desperate scrambling to discredit atrazine’s critics. Recent pieces in major outlets like the New Yorker and Canada’s 16 x 9, building on important findings first published in 100Reporters, have pulled back the curtain on Syngenta’s PR machine for a broader audience. The message? In the pesticide industry, spin is half the business.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

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 blog
By Linda Wells,

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 blog
By Kristin Schafer,

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 blog
By Paul Towers,

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 blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

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 blog
By Medha Chandra,

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 blog
By Judy Hatcher,

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.