GroundTruth Blog

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

Emily Marquez's picture

PAN has done a lot to spread the word about neonicotinoid pesticides and their adverse impacts on bees. But there are other repercussions for widespread use of neonics too, as an increasing number of studies highlight. Adverse impacts on wild pollinators, birds and other wildlife from neonics have also been in the news lately.

Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world, finding their way into ecosystems through water, soil and insects other species rely on for food. These chemicals were released onto the U.S. market without regulators fully understanding their impacts, and scientists continue to uncover more unintended consequences — from harming honey bees to song birds.

Paul Towers's picture

They’re in our garden plants, sprayed on orchards throughout the state, and used as seed coatings on commodity crops in California and across the country. After five years of review, California officials have not only failed to complete an evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics), they continue to allow more and more of these bee-harming chemicals into the market.

Fed up with the years of hand-sitting, PAN and our partners brought the state and pesticide manufacturers to court today.

Emily Marquez's picture

After about 20 years of RoundUp use and 15 years of widespread planting of Monsanto's RoundUp-Ready GE crops, the efficacy of this herbicide is declining. Farmers are facing "superweeds" that can no longer be tamed by glyphosate, RoundUp's active ingredient. So now what?

Unfortunately, a new generation of crops engineered to resist mixtures of herbicide are waiting in the wings. As you've heard from my colleague Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, these new GE crops are completely the wrong response to this self-inflicted crisis. Meanwhile, researchers are raising new questions about the health and environmental effects of glyphosate itself.

Lex Horan's picture

Last Tuesday, I spent the evening in Bemidji, Minnesota with the Toxic Taters Coalition. Under the lofty wood ceilings of the Rail River Folk School, a group of local residents gathered, seated in a semi-circle of old cinema seats, listening attentively to stories from potato country.

The gathering in Bemidji was the third event in the Toxic Taters Coalition’s statewide speaking tour with the goal of building support for safer potato fields across the state. By raising the profile of pesticide contamination from conventional potato production, Toxic Taters is turning up the heat on fast-food giant McDonald's and one of its primary potato suppliers, R.D. Offutt Company (RDO).

Pesticide Action Network's picture

The pipeline of new genetically engineered (GE) crop technologies is full to bursting. Many of the GE seeds queued up for approval are engineered for use with hazardous herbicide mixes intended to overcome the "superweed" crisis — a direct result of widespread adoption of Monsanto's RoundUp Ready crops.

On June 30th, EPA will close the public comment period on the "new use" of the herbicide 2,4-D being proposed by Dow AgroSciences to accompany their latest GE seeds. The new products — going by the name "Enlist" — would combine 2,4-D and glyphosate, and would be used with corn and soy seeds that have been engineered to tolerate to this chemical cocktail. Please join us in urging EPA to say no.

Paul Towers's picture

Bee-harming pesticides in our lavender and daisies? In the same week that an international body of scientists released a comprehensive global assessment of the harms of pesticides to bees, a new report shows that these very same pesticides are found in many of our backyard plants — at levels of concern — that are meant to support pollinators.

The report shows that 51% of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers (Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart) in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key driver of declining bee populations. Concerning levels of the pesticides were found in places like California’s San Francisco Bay Area and in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. In some cases, multiple neonics were found in the same plant, in the leaves, stalks or flowers.

Medha Chandra's picture

On Monday, researchers from UC Davis released new data linking prenatal pesticide exposure to increased risk of autism. This latest study adds to an increasingly powerful case for reducing use of these harmful chemicals that are undermining the potential of the next generation.

Researchers found that mothers who live within a mile of fields where toxic pesticides are applied have a 60% higher chance of having kids with autism. The link is strongest for the insecticide chlorpyrifos — and as a mom, this has me worried. More than a million pounds of this chemical are used every year in California, and while both state officials and EPA are taking another look at chlorpyrifos harms, the process is painfully slow. That's why we're now asking Congress to step up and help protect our kids.

Emily Marquez's picture

"There's a perception that drift happens." That's what I heard an industry rep say when I listened in on a Kaua'i County Council meeting on pesticide issues last summer (before the landmark Bill 2491 passed). A perception of drift? Really?

If you've been following our work here at PAN you already know that pesticide drift is a problem. On-the-ground data from across the country leaves no question that drift happens — and that people in rural communities are being harmed. But did you know there's more than one kind? It's true. And right now, EPA is reviewing how to best assess the risks of the "other" kind of drift: volatilization.

Kristin Schafer's picture

Last week, I harvested the first cherries from our backyard tree. They were yummy, gorgeous and fresh — so satisfying! Having planted the little tree just last spring and tended it since, it was also satisfying to know the sweet fruit is completely free of any chemicals that could harm me or my family.

If I'd picked up non-organic cherries from the store instead, they could be coated with any of the 42 pesticides USDA found in their most recent round of residue sampling. According to PAN's newly updated WhatsOnMyFood.org online tool, 20 of the chemicals found on cherries are suspected hormone disruptors, seven are harmful to the human nervous system and five have been linked to cancer. Yikes.

Paul Towers's picture

Two. That’s the number of votes a bill to label genetically engineered (GE) foods recently fell short of in the California Senate. And not for lack of trying, or lack of public support. A powerful coalition of moms, farmers, businesses and public interest groups joined together to push the bill forward; they filled the Capitol halls, offices and phone lines of State Senators for days leading up to the vote.

After several attempts to bring SB 1381 to a vote on the Senate floor, including convincing several Senators to abstain from voting, it narrowly failed to pass. Still, the movement to label GE food in California and beyond shows no sign of slowing or backing down.