GroundTruth Blog

Emily Marquez's blog

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Earlier this week, the industrial agriculture-backed Alliance for Food and Farming launched a new effort to challenge organic farming. And a few days ago, an article was posted on Slate underscoring many of the same points — challenging the benefits of organic food and farming, and downplaying the harms of pesticides to children.

We wholeheartedly agree with the Slate article author that eating fruits and veggies is important to children's health. But as I noted in a media statement yesterday, the fruits and vegetables children eat should provide nutrition to their bodies without exposing them to health harms that can last a lifetime. 

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It's not exactly a shocker, but a recently released report from the United Kingdom (UK) Health and Safety Executive indicates that yes, there are low levels of pesticides in food commonly found in supermarkets. Seventy-seven percent of the starchy foods tested — including various kinds of bread — contained measurable residues.

Among the pesticides found was the controversial chemical glyphosate, with 23% of cereal bars containing residues of Monsanto's flagship herbicide.

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For quite some time, European policymakers have been working on a plan to regulate endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In the last few months, the process has sparked a furor among researchers and public health experts, with a heated battle of editorials raging in scientific journals that highlights clear conflicts of interest among those critiquing European action.

EDCs are compounds that alter the hormonal systems in an organism, and many of these chemicals are in widespread use. If the European Union (EU) regulates EDCs, it will be the first policy in the world that addresses the endocrine disruptor problem.

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Right now, I'm sitting in a room at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, located in Rome, Italy. Though I get to walk by the Coliseum every morning on the way to the FAO building, I don't leave the building until well after the sun has set.

I'm representing PAN at the Stockholm Convention's Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), and learning a great deal about the scientific review of new POPs that's part of the global chemicals treaty process.

Emily Marquez's picture

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's RoundUp, is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient in the U.S. From the product's beginnings back in the 1970s, it's been touted as a relatively safe, non-toxic chemical.

But the use of glyphosate has surged dramatically since the 1990s, when genetically engineered (GE) "RoundUp Ready" corn and soybean crops were introduced. This intensive usage raises an important and increasingly urgent question: have the human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate been carefully and exhaustively evaluated? What do we know and what don't we?