GroundTruth Blog

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

Margaret Reeves's picture

While there are hundreds of species of earthworms, anyone who makes compost knows the redworm, or Eisenia fetida. They make what's considered perhaps the richest form of natural fertilizer — a true friend to farmers and gardeners alike.

What you might not know is that very low levels of pesticides can kill these "black gold" producers. If they don't kill outright, pesticides can cause other serious harm, like reducing worms' ability to reproduce. Exposure to the neonicitinoid pesticide imidacloprid — well-known for its toxicity to honeybees — can also cause serious harm to worms, damaging DNA and deforming sperm. Bad news.

Kristin Schafer's picture

My grandfather's Parkinson's was pretty far along by the time I knew him. I remember as a 4-year-old straining to understand his tremoring voice which — when combined with his thick Swedish accent — was almost impossible for me and my sister to understand. Even as a small child, I could tell it broke his heart.

In a study released last week, researchers explain exactly how pesticides can interact with the brain to trigger this incurable disease. Their findings may help prevent and treat Parkinson's for future generations.

Amy Fontenot's picture

I have never been an organizer.  Tell me where the march is, and I’ll show up if I can.   

But several months ago I got an e-mail forward from Graham White, a beekeeper in Scotland. It said something to the effect of: “Hey beekeepers, picture this: a flash mob for the bees!”

Kathryn Gilje's picture

The smell of earth is the first thing I always notice when I return to the Midwest. I grew up among the lakes and prairies of this region, and though I am intrigued by the salty, tangy smell of the sea that comes in with the fog where I now live, it's the smell of soil that grounds me, and brings me home.

Traveling to Oklahoma and through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota this week, I have been honored to deliver 6,101 thank you notes from the PAN community, expressing sincere appreciation to farmers for their innovation and hard work to grow good food that nourishes us, while also stewarding the earth and keeping that soil alive.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Last Saturday in Geneva, endosulfan was officially listed under the global Rotterdam Convention "to huge applause from conference delegates and observers," according to scientist Meriel Watts of PAN Asia-Pacific, who attended the meeting.

The decision marks a victorious end to PAN's multi-year, international effort to add the insecticide on the Convention's "prior informed consent" list, which requires that countries importing a chemical be informed if that chemical has been banned in other countries. Earlier this year, endosulfan was added to the Stockholm Convention list of persistent chemicals to be phased out globally. This additional listing in the Rotterdam Convention is likely to speed the demise of endosulfan's production and trade worldwide.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

The pesticide industry’s latest “we're on your side” PR campaign is in high gear this summer — on the web, in ads, lobbying. Their cross-country road show features people dressed as rats, West Nile-spreading mosquitoes, Lyme disease-carrying ticks and community-destroying weeds that, were it not for pesticides, threaten to overrun our homes, schools and Little League fields.

“I’ve heard that we don’t need to use pesticides, is that true?” False, says the “Facts” page on the Debug the Myths website. Herbicides, for example, are essential to fight allergies and asthma, cracks in roads and sidewalks, and prevent overgrown bus stops. And they're serious. These alarms are delivered by RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), they’re attracting attention and they’re blocking legislation.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Summer’s here, and it’s been 6 months since cancer-causing methyl iodide was approved for use in California agriculture. It’s only been in the past few weeks, however, that we’ve actually seen this incredibly dangerous chemical used in the fields of California. 

Late last month, a farm in Sanger became the first in California to use the fumigant pesticide. Neighboring communities responded with a rally and demonstration outside the Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner’s office, demanding public health protections based on sound science, not corporate influence. "Today's message to all California regulators is clear: Do your job, protect public health and support farmers' transition away from toxic pesticides" said Sarah Sharpe, environmental health director of Fresno Metro Ministry.

Kristin Schafer's picture

It's been more than a few years now, but I remember the roller coaster ride of pregnancy like it was yesterday. Nine months of bouncing from giddy excitement to mind-bending worry, pure joy to frantic nesting. Powerful emotions are amplified by equally powerful hormones, working overtime.

As scientists report yet again this week, those churning hormones also make exposure to pesticides during pregnancy especially dangerous. Birth defects, autism, lower IQ, reduced birth weight, infertility — the risk of these life-changing impacts is higher for infants conceived during spray season or carrying pesticides in their cordblood. Yikes.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Last week we alerted readers to behind-the-scenes lobbying in Congress that would strip pesticide protections from our nation's stongest environmental laws. On Tuesday, June 21st, the Senate Agriculture Committee quietly approved legislation to exempt pesticide applications from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act — with no notice, and no press.

The bill, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872) would reverse a 2009 court order requiring the permits as a part of the National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES). Instead, pesticides would remain subject only to the much weaker statute under which most pesticides are regulated, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). H.R. 872 has already passed in the House of Representatives.

Margaret Reeves's picture

In last week’s Atlantic, Barry Estabrook shines a light on the horrific story of pesticides and farmworker families in Florida's Lake Apopka. Thousands in the small African American community suffer from myriad maladies including kidney failure and a rate of birth defects that is 4 times greater than in other Florida towns.

The response? Florida governor Rick Scott blatantly turns a blind eye, vetoing an allocation of $500,000 to investigate the birth defects. What was he thinking?