GroundTruth Blog

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

Irma Medellin's blog
By Irma Medellin,

Pesticides are an everyday part life in our town. Sometimes we can see or smell the drifting chemicals, sometimes they are invisible. But we know they are there — especially in the fall when fields are fumigated, and this time of year when new plants are sprayed.

So I wasn't surprised when health officials released a report last week showing that children in our part of California — the Central Valley — are most likely to be in schools near pesticide-sprayed fields. We've been telling our stories for years, and unfortunately policymakers haven't heard us. As a mom, I'm very much hoping that maybe now we will see some change.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

A few weeks ago I heard Dr. Marla Spivak give a “State of the Bees” address to a packed auditorium in Minneapolis. At the end of her presentation, an audience member raised his hand and asked: “What state is doing the most to protect bees?” Dr. Spivak only paused for a moment before answering, “Well, I’d have to say Minnesota.”

Dr. Spivak may be biased, since her Bee Lab is based at the University of Minnesota (and I guess I could be too). But I think she’s onto something: Minnesota is getting a move on protecting its pollinators.

Sara Knight's blog
By Sara Knight,

It's no surprise: pesticide corporations go to great lengths to protect the public image of their products. We've been highlighting their PR hijinks for years, and their attempts to spin facts to suit their agenda have only gotten more blatant.

Bees and pesticides provide the latest example. Corporate attempts to reframe the conversation, and subvert independent science, have gone into hyperdrive. Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto in particular are positioning themselves as "bee friendly" — no matter that several top selling pesticide products are directly linked to bee deaths.

Judy Hatcher's blog
By Judy Hatcher,

At a funder conference I’m attending this week, we began by singing the venerable labor song, “Which side are you on?” I thought it was an especially appropriate choice because at PAN, we’re joining our allies around the world in reflecting on the intersections between worker’s rights, safety and public health.

This week, as we note both International Workers Memorial Day and May Day (International Workers Day across much of the world), I’m reminded of how important it is for all of us who care about the food system to take sides with the system’s workers.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

This is very powerful data. A new, first-of-its-kind report from California's Department of Health (DPH) shows that health-harming agricultural pesticides are being sprayed close to schools across the state.

Not just a few pesticides, either — or a few schools. More than 500,000 California children in hundreds of schools spend their days within 1/4 mile of pesticide applications. Of these, more than 100,000 (mostly Latino) children in 226 schools attend classrooms near fields with the heaviest use of dangerous chemicals. We have a problem.

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.