GroundTruth Blog

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

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Late Tuesday afternoon, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a long-awaited bill to place a moratorium on bee-harming pesticides. The "Save America's Pollinators Act" would require EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides off the market until fully reviewed by independent scientists and proven safe for pollinators.

EPA's current review of these pesticides is due to conclude in 2018, with an action plan to be implemented sometime thereafter. Meanwhile, bees continue to die off in droves — and scientific evidence highlighting neonics as a key factor continues to mount. Bees need help now, and the Conyers-Blumenauer bill provides them an immediate reprieve from neonic exposures.

Kristin Schafer's picture

Update 7/18/13: After months of delay, Gina McCarthy was confirmed as the new head of EPA today. See this media statement for more details.

We hear the Senate will take up the confirmation of EPA's new leader next week. As we wait on the final vote, I've been thinking about what I'd say to Administrator-to-be Gina McCarthy if I had a chance to take her out for coffee and a chat as she gets ready to step into her new role.

Three things come to mind. First, I'd urge her to have the agency do a much, much better job following the science. Second, when that science points to human health or environmental harms, she needs to move fast — no dawdling allowed. And third, I'd remind her just exactly who she'll be working for. Because even though they don’t show up in suits on EPA’s doorstep every day (like the industry reps do), it's the nation's children she'll answer to in the end.

Margaret Reeves's picture

Today farmworkers from across the country are showing up on Capitol Hill to demand rules that protect them and their families from harmful pesticides. We urge leaders in Washington to listen carefully — and then do the right thing.

EPA has been promising to strengthen existing rules for the past 13 years, but the reality in the fields remains the same: farmworkers regularly face harmful exposures to pesticides. An estimated 10,000-20,000 are poisoned each year, and countless more suffer long term health harms. With today's fly-in, more than a dozen farmworkers from several states will put faces and stories to these numbers for lawmakers, and deliver a simple message: Enough is enough.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

It's been almost 29 years since a Union Carbide pesticide plant exploded in Bhopal, India. The 1984 tragedy — one of the worst industrial accidents in history — has killed at least 20,000 people, and contamination at the accident site continues to put the surrounding community's health at risk.

Last month, a New York court once again denied justice for Bhopal victims when it upheld a previous judgment dismissing all claims against Union Carbide and its former CEO, Warren Anderson. Attorney Rajan Sharma, who represented the survivors, called the decision a "whitewash."

Paul Towers's picture

As many of us geared up for Fourth of July festivities, the nation’s largest beekeeper organizations filed a legal action against EPA for its approval of a new bee-harming pesticide.

EPA is unable (or unwilling) to act decisively to protect bees, instead fast-tracking a new pesticide to market. Beekeepers aren’t taking the issues lightly, and have turned to asserting legal pressure on the agency.

Kristin Schafer's picture

Ed Brown's new movie Unacceptable Levels tells the story of chemicals in our bodies: how they get there, what it means to our health, how in the world it can be legal, and what we can do about it.

All this from the perspective of a young dad contemplating the food his family eats, the water they drink and that cute little rubber duck his kids chew on. Brown's personal journey, as he pulls back the veil on our chemically-saturated world, is well worth watching. I'll be at the film's July 11 screening in San Francisco along with other PAN staff — if you're in the Bay Area, please join us! Showings are also happening soon in Chicago and Austin.

Medha Chandra's picture

Earlier this year, EPA banned certain rodenticide products found to be particularly harmful to children, pets and non-target wildlife. As I reported in previous blogs, the company Reckitt-Benckiser — which manufactures d-Con rat control products — filed a legal challenge against EPA’s decision.

While the legal process drags on, the hazardous rodent control products remain on the market. But an exciting new resource highlights alternatives to hazards like d-Con. Launched this week by a California-based coalition, the new website lays out various options available for safe rodent control in homes and businesses.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Last month, the 2013 World Food Prize was bestowed on Monsanto and Syngenta in recognition of their development of genetically engineered seed technologies. The news shocked the sustainable food and farming community — driving farmers, people’s movement leaders, reknowned scientists and development experts the world over to express their outrage and dismay.

Many excellent responses blasting the decision have been published (here, here and here). Perhaps the most powerful rebuke came from 81 laureates of the Right Livelihood Award and members of the prestigious World Food Council, who shredded the Prize organizers’ argument that GE seeds are feeding the world.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

The little herbicide that could. That's what comes to mind as EPA proposes to up the residue levels of RoundUp allowed on food — despite a fresh round of studies pointing to possible human health effects from exposure.

The latest science examines links between Monsanto's flagship product and endocrine disruption, including a laboratory study that suggests an effect on cells similar to that of estrogen — a hormone that plays a role in stimulating breast cancer. PAN scientists are taking a careful look at these findings; given the widespread use of RoundUp (more than 180 million pounds every year) the public health implications could be dramatic.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Many scientists rank biodiversity loss very high on their list of urgent global concerns. Chemical contaminants have long been understood as an important driver, but empirical evidence on a large scale has been sparse.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides compelling data to fill this gap. Researchers found that biodiversity dropped in pesticide-laden streams in three countries: Germany, France and Australia.