GroundTruth Blog

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

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

A combination of commonly used pesticides can triple the risk of Parkinson's disease (PD), according to a new study released last week in the European Journal of Epidemiology. People who work and/or live near fields sprayed with paraquat, maneb and ziram are more likely to suffer from the degenerative central nervous system disorder, for which there is no cure.

Researchers note that their findings provide the first strong evidence in humans that exposure to several pesticides increases risk of PD more than exposure to individual chemicals alone.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

A collection of recent studies shows that exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) — including many longlasting pesticides — can slow growth rates of human embryos and shrink the genitals and weaken bones of polar bears.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, is asking health professionals around the world to do more to protect children from the health effects of POPs.

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

My mom hackles are up. GE toxins are turning up in umbilical cordblood and the blood of pregnant women, according to a study by independent Canadian doctors. And what might be the effect of these toxins on developing fetuses? No one really knows. Let me tell you why this is big news.

All this time, Monsanto has based its assertion that crops engineered to contain the bacterial toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), are harmless on an assumption that the toxin breaks down in the digestive system and so never enters the rest of the body. Regulators have been repeating this to us for over a generation. Now it turns out that the Bt toxin is not only surviving in our guts, but is making its way on into our bloodstreams — and if we’re pregnant, into the soon-to-be-babies in our bellies.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Healthy crops come from healthy soil. Soil fertility depends on an incredible diversity and abundance of soil critters, from the microscopic to the flying and creepy crawly. Together these critters cycle nitrogen (N) and many other essential minerals and nutrients, making them available to plants. The complexity of what goes on in healthy soil is truly awe-inspiring.

A key group of organisms that provide the soil with one nutrient that's often in short supply are the N-fixing soil bacteria. And according to a recent study by UK scientists, it turns out these organisms do a better job when they're working on organic farms.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

There's good news for school children in New York. The Child Safe Playing Fields Act, which took effect May 17, prohibits use of pesticides on playgrounds, athletic fields and all grassy areas in K-12 schools across the state.

This law represents major progress toward preventing children’s exposure to pesticides and the resulting health harms. Science clearly shows that during critical developmental windows, exposure to pesticides can cause long-term and irreversible damage for children’s health and cognitive development.

Kathryn Gilje's blog
By Kathryn Gilje,

Cancer. Ironically and tragically, as I’ve experienced more and more cancer in the lives around me, I’ve begun to harden myself to its consequences. I expect it someday. I accept cancer as an inevitable part of life that we must battle and do our best to survive. I’ve even watched myself teach this to young ones as I attempt to soothe their fear. Despite my best intentions, I’m normalizing cancer.

But this much cancer — and the pain, fear, and enormous cost that accompanies it — doesn't have to be a normal part of life. Cancer used to be exceedingly rare. And we should just never be in a position of trying to make sense of rising rates of childhood cancer. Period.

Karl Tupper's blog
By Karl Tupper,

As we reported in last month's update of What's On My Food?, USDA's 2010 pesticide residue data has been mysteriously delayed for five months.

As we suspected, it seems the produce industry isn't happy with the way USDA has been presenting its annual public summary of the data, and has been pressuring the Department to make changes. In a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last month, they charge that the annual report "has, in previous years, been mischaracterized repeatedly by environmental activists and news media to the extent that it has discouraged people from consuming fresh produce." Apparently "mischaracterized" is industry-speak for "brought to the attention of the public".

Kathryn Gilje's blog
By Kathryn Gilje,

On May 13th, the country's top scientists and 200,000+ ordinary people urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to prioritize scientific evidence over corporate influence and ban the cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide. Called “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth” by Dr. John Froines, the chair of California's scientific review of the chemical, methyl iodide is promoted by Arysta LifeScience — the largest privately-held pesticide company in the world.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

May has been a good month for farmworker advocates across the country — a fitting celebration of international labor day, celebrated on May 1st around the world. From California to Oregon to Florida, several hard-won and important victories deserve recognition.

Here in California, we're celebrating a legislative victory moving the Fair Treatment for Farmworkers Act to the governor’s desk. Thanks to our California supporters for your calls to Sacramento; you helped keep this important bill moving. We'll keep you posted on the outcome.

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

With gas prices well over $4/gallon, conversation with my neighbors frequently turns to the vulnerability of our fossil-fuel-based economy and to the future of our planet. The good news I can share today is that organic farms — besides being good for the soil, environment and our health — are proving to be much more energy efficient than conventional systems.