GroundTruth Blog

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

Pesticide Action Network's picture

New tests conducted by British scientists show that widely used agricultural pesticides disrupt male hormones, and may be contributing to a suite of reproductive disorders increasingly common among men.

Reduced sperm count, infertility and abnormal genitals are among the problems some scientists have dubbed “testicular dysgenesis syndrome.” This latest study greatly strengthens the evidence that these problems may be linked to environmental contaminants.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Since 2008, Brazil has held the dubious distinction of spending more on pesticides than anyplace else on earth. But what has the country's farmers, public health professionals and environmental advocates even more worried is Brazil's corresponding rise in planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, engineered to tolerate mega-doses of herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup). And these crops are driving emergence of herbicide-tolerant "superweeds".

Karl Tupper's picture

I know I've written it before, but we're really witnessing the endgame for endosulfan in Geneva this week. I'm here, once again, for negotiations under the Stockholm Convention, otherwise known as the POPS treaty. The global agreement bans the worst of the worst chemicals — Persistent Organic Pollutants like dioxins and PCBs. As I've been chronicling in this blog, endosulfan has been winding its way through the Convention's evaluation process for several years now. If the stars align, it'll finally be added to the Convention this week, triggering a global phaseout.

Kathryn Gilje's picture

At Pesticide Action Network, we mark Earth Day by reflecting on the work handed to us by our predecessors. We take stock of their predictions for our world, and pull lessons for moving forward.

I am reminded, in particular, of Rachel Carson's articulate science and clarion call on pesticides in Silent Spring. Of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and how their very first contracts demanded the decreased use of pesticides. Of farmers and eaters who have grown and harvested foods for millenia while protecting biodiversity and our earth. And of my own populist, upper Midwest heritage, and how the Wisconsinite Earth Day founders mobilized broad and diverse support for stewardship, 20 million strong in 1970, that led to some of the most important policies that safeguard our collective nest.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shocked the American public with its hasty approval of three highly controversial GE crops in a row (alfalfa, sugar beets and ethanol corn). In doing so, the agency effectively thumbed its nose at U.S. federal courts and spit in the face of consumers and farmers alike. Now, USDA has apparently decided that getting sued for ignoring U.S. environmental laws is getting to be too much of a hassle. So they've come up with a new plan: why not let Monsanto evaluate the potential harms of its new transgenic products? It’ll be so much quicker this way. And save USDA a lot of money.

The two-year pilot program allowing GE developers to conduct their own environmental assessments for USDA is an “experiment” to improve its systems, says USDA. Tom Philpott calls it a craven way out.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Editor's note: This week, Environmental Health Perspectives selected this trio of studies for its 2012 "Paper of the year" award. EHP notes that the importance of the research to understanding the "alterations of cognitive function following developmental exposure to environmental chemicals." Congratulations to the study authors from all of us at PAN. We are reposting our original coverage of these studies below.

School-age children have lower IQs when their mother's are exposed to pesticides during pregnancy. This is the conclusion of 3 independent studies released today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Chela Vazquez's picture

Earlier this month in Rome, the deadly pesticide paraquat moved a step closer to global phaseout. Paraquat is widely known in the developing world as the poison of choice for farmer suicides, and was notorious in the 1970s as the herbicide sprayed by the U.S. government to try to eradicate marijuana plots in Mexico.

Kathryn Gilje's picture

Strawberries make me happy. They are tasty, bite sized and cute. They fight cancer, give you a boost of Vitamin C, and even improve brain function. And last Sunday, they arrived en masse to the farmers market in my very own Oakland, California neighborhood. A sweet, true sign of spring. I wandered by several farmstands, tasting samples of Albion, Seascape and Chandler, finally settling on several organic pints from Tomatero Farm.

Karl Tupper's picture

Next Monday is World Malaria Day, and DDT will surely be in the news. The usual parade of opinion pieces calling for a revival of DDT spraying to control malaria (as though it ever stopped) will be on display.

You'll likely also read that the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised fresh concerns about its safety, and you may even hear that the Stockholm Convention has endorsed its continued use. Let me try to explain what's going on.

Kristin Schafer's picture

Today we are one step closer to protecting kids in this country — and around the globe — from persistent chemicals.

A group of senators proposed a new law this week to revamp our 35-year-old system of managing toxic chemicals. Our friends in Washington tell us this version of the bill is stronger than the attempt that stalled in Congress last year. How very refreshing to have good news coming out of DC!