Heather Pilatic's blog | Pesticide Action Network
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Heather Pilatic's blog

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Neonics hurt bees. Who knew?!

Earlier this week the European Food Safety Association issued a report concluding that neonicotinoids ("neonics") pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied are fatally flawed.  

...which is exactly what we've been saying since 2010, when we publicized the "leaked memo" showing that EPA has allowed clothianidin (a neonicotinoid) to remain on the market despite the absence of any solid science demonstrating the chemical's safety for bees. Last spring, PAN conducted our own evaluation of the state of the science on pesticides and bees and reached many of the same conclusions outlined in EFSA's comprehensive review of the science (see their full report). The science is not the surprise here. 

Heather Pilatic
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What would Rachel write: The top 4 untold pesticide stories

Silent Spring turns 50 next week, giving occasion for all manner of reflection on Rachel Carson's legacy as the author who catalyzed the U.S. environmental movement. The small, but vocal rightwing fringe continues in its campaign to paint Carson as the devil "responsible for more deaths than Hitler." But most mainstream reflections thus far have sought to contemporize Carson by drawing links between the issues she outlined in Silent Spring and the concerns we still face today. 

Claiming no special insight other than working daily in Carson's wake, I speculate that she'd be reporting in her way on one of these still-untold and/or under-reported pesticide stories: 

Heather Pilatic
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Pesticides & the silencing of the bees

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This month marks the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the book that galvanized an extraordinary cross-section of the American public into what we now call the environmental movement. Fifty years later, her courage, skill and sacrifice still inspire, and her legacy remains the contested terrain of some of our country’s most disabling rituals of political partisanship. Pesticides still function as a kind of litmus test: either you’re for farmers and progress and “sound science,” or you’re in the camp of those reflexively “chemophobic” tree-hugging “environmentalists.” And your loyalties to one or the other of these tribes can be indexed to how you feel about pesticides.

Heather Pilatic
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Organic food study "missed the point"

This week’s controversy surrounding a Stanford study claiming to have established that organic food is no more nutritious than non-organic illustrates the pitfalls of talking about food issues in a consumer frame. And people all around the country are saying so.

Food issues are never solely or even mainly about individual consumer choice — our food and farming system connects us with each other and is by most measures our most impactful daily interaction with the environment.

Heather Pilatic
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20 yrs later, the Biotech Brigade marches on….

Twenty years ago this week Dan Quayle went against scientific consensus to publicly proclaim that genetically engineered foods were “substantially equivalent” to non-GE food, and that he would therefore work to ensure that GE food would not be “hampered by unnecessary regulation.” In the pivotal 1992 FDA ruling that Quayle then proudly claimed as part of his “regulatory relief” agenda, the flood gates for GE were opened.

We’ve been living in that wake ever since because a small clutch of biotech “true believers,” ideologically anti-regulatory government officials and industry lobbyists have kept that flood gate open against great odds.

Heather Pilatic
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GE corn & sick honey bees - what's the link?

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No farmer in their right mind wants to poison pollinators. When I spoke with one Iowa corn farmer in January and told him about the upcoming release of a Purdue study confirming corn as a major neonicotinoid exposure route for bees, his face dropped with worn exasperation. He looked down for a moment, sighed and said, “You know, I held out for years on buying them GE seeds, but now I can’t get conventional seeds anymore. They just don’t carry ‘em."

Heather Pilatic
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Widely-used pesticides are killing bees

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Bees are still dying and EPA is still sitting on its hands. Luckily for those of us who like to eat, scientists have been hard at work cracking the "mystery" of colony collapse disorder (CCD). Today two new studies were published in Science, strengthening the case that neonicotinoid pesticides are indeed key drivers behind recent pollinator declines.

Heather Pilatic
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What Gates gets wrong on GE, every time

Influential philanthropists like Bill Gates hold a responsibility to be well informed about the impacts of their spending — and their words. Late last month in his annual letter on his foundation's priorities, Gates asserted that lack of support for genetically engineered (GE) crops allows world hunger to endure. He is wrong. 

We engaged the editorial team at TakePart.com, which covered Gates' letter, in a dialogue to correct a few of the key points that Gates gets wrong about world hunger, the Green Revolution and the broken promises of GE. 

Heather Pilatic

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