GroundTruth Blog

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

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Before we move fully into the busy end-of-year season, it seems useful to take a moment to step back, take a breath and take stock of where we landed after the mid-term elections. Some surprisingly heartening lessons emerge.

We're all familiar with the high-level analysis by now — the very big impact of big money, ascension of climate-deniers to Senate leadership, polarization of politics, etc. But as you dig a bit deeper, a more optimistic picture comes into focus. From community pushback of corporate control to a rekindled conversation about national food policy, some very real, very hopeful shifts are in motion.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Two weeks ago, sitting next to the current director of California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and across from the former director-turned-Clorox lobbyist, I hoped for the best. We sat around a table discussing alternatives to hazardous pesticide use on homes, schools and in agriculture.

But progress on this front can often feel like an uphill battle. And as a recent Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) piece pointed out, chemical corporations and their lobbyists are all too often dominating policy conversations.

Medha Chandra's blog
By Medha Chandra,


At my Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, we’ll be talking about what we’re thankful for. I'm very thankful to live in the resource-rich state of California, the topmost producer of fruits and vegetables in the country. And I'm thankful for the hard, often dangerous work that thousands of farmworkers do across the state to help bring nature’s bounty to our table. 

I'm also thankful for the growing awareness that food choices matter. People in California — and across the country — are beginning to see that choosing food grown without chemical pesticides is not only healthier for their own families, but can help protect the health of farmers and farmworkers, families in rural communities and children everywhere. This is real and exciting progress.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

In Oregon, Hawai'i, California and beyond, we saw organized communities stand up to corporate money this election season. And despite record-breaking industry spending, community advocates made real and important strides toward reclaiming food and farming from the "Big 6" pesticide corporations.  

Voters in California and Hawai'i successfully pushed back against Monsanto & friends to create GE-free zones in Humboldt and Maui counties. And despite millions of industry dollars spent in opposition, the initiative to label genetically engineered food in Oregon is still too close to call. Change is on its way.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

When you think of potatoes, you might think of McDonald's french fries. But what do we know about how those potatoes are grown? Are hazardous pesticides applied? And what might that mean to the health and wellbeing of communities in potato-growing regions?

The fact is, more than 1,750,000 pounds of pesticides were applied to U.S. potatoes in 2012. Topping the list of pesticides of concern, particularly in the potato-growing regions of Minnesota, is the highly hazardous fungicide chlorothalonil (a probable carcinogen). But this is just one of dozens of health-harming chemicals routinely applied in conventional potato production.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

Eight months and counting after the Toxic Taters Coalition kicked off its campaign, McDonald’s is still dodging the issue of pesticide drift. The corporation has made plenty of public promises to cut pesticide use on its potatoes, but so far the fast food giant has been short on follow-through.

So last week, Toxic Taters took the message straight to McDonald’s in a coordinated day of action to keep the issue front and center. PAN collaborated closely with the grassroots Toxic Taters Coalition and many other organizations across the country — and we’re happy to say that the day of action was a big success. There were 16 in-person events around Minnesota, with solidarity call-in actions fanning out across the country in support of communities impacted by pesticide drift.

Lex Horan's blog
By Lex Horan,

Independent scientists have been saying it for a while now: neonicotinoid pesticides aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. And finally, scientists and economists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are showing signs that they’re listening to the science.

Last Thursday, EPA released preliminary findings on neonic-coated soybeans — a small part of the agency’s broader review of neonicotinoids. EPA’s headline finding? Neonicotinoid seed treatments “provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations.”

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the public conversation has been noticeably different this year. I've heard much more talk about chemicals that increase cancer risk — and what can and should be done to prevent breast cancer — than talk about raising awareness. It's about time.

I've also seen a new eyes-wide-open awareness of how absurd it is for companies that produce or sell cancer-causing products to wrap themselves in pink for the month. (I think it was the pink fracking drill bit "for the cure" that finally broke through the noise.) Think Before You Pink has been a core campaign message of our friends at Breast Cancer Action for many years, and it's a message we stand firmly behind. It's high time to move beyond pinkwashing.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

We close Food Week with a shout out in celebration of the millions of food workers around the world upon whose hard work the food system depends — from picking to packing, serving to selling. Sadly, these workers share one thing in common around the globe: they are among the worst paid workers in an industry that creates some of the largest corporate profits.

For an excellent analysis of the disparities between workers and corporate agriculture powers, mark your calendars for the November 21 debut of the film Food Chains. The film does a nice job placing the realities of U.S. food workers in a global perspective.

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

Today is World Food Day and around the world communities are taking a stand against hunger. But the solutions put forward differ dramatically depending on what one understands the “food problem” to be. For many, every day is World Food Day and presents both the necessity and opportunity to fight for farm and food justice; for them it is a matter of integrity and survival. Theirs (and ours) is a fight for food sovereignty, tackling the problems of hunger and our inequitable, imbalanced food system at their source.

For others, the Monsantos of the world, this day marks an opportunity to further push false, pesticide-dependent solutions to real problems. But democratizing our food system is the most powerful way I know to solve the underlying problems that World Food Day highlights — and people around the world are coming together to make it happen.