Kathryn Gilje's blog | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Kathryn Gilje's blog

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Turns out, women come home from work with breast cancer

A critical and devastating new study confirms a link between certain work — farming and vegetable canning included — and an elevated risk of breast cancer. The research was conducted in southern Ontario, and for me, this news hits close to home.

I was raised in Minnesota, and lived on a small farm just fifteen miles from a vegetable canning factory. When reading this study, I immediately thought of Lily, a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer in her late twenties. She and her mother Lidia spent over a decade working in the vegetable canning factory after coming to Minnesota as migrant farmworkers. I vividly remember the desperation and grief in Lidia's voice when she told me the news of Lily's cancer.

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Up next? Fumigant-free strawberry fields.

In March, we stopped the pesticide industry from pushing a cancer-causing chemical into California strawberry fields. Together, we won an incredible victory when Arysta LifeScience — maker of methyl iodide — pulled its hazardous product off the U.S. market.

Now, we turn to "what's next," the important work of ensuring that strawberries truly get off the pesticide treadmill.

Kathryn Gilje
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Pink should mean prevention

Cancer has taken much too big a toll on my life this year to write this blog with anything but intense urgency, fueled by deep sorrow. The lives of our dear friends, our daughters, our brothers and others are all at stake.

Breast cancer is caused by multiple factors. Scientists don't doubt that exposure to toxic chemicals is part of that causation mix, with carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds — including many pesticides — key among the nasties. Though Breast Cancer Awareness month came to an official close yesterday, we continue the critical work of halting this devastating disease.

Kathryn Gilje
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For Christians & food, the devil is in the details

This is a global Week of Food Action, and as part of the push, a broad alliance of Christians from around the world has released a set of recommendations for ending world hunger. 

Despite best attempts by the chemical industry to use "feeding the world" as moral justification to sell pesticides and proprietary, genetically engineered (GE) seeds to farmers worldwide, members of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance are calling instead for food and farming systems that embody Christian values of fairness, care for creation and sustenance for generations. Rather than pesticides and GE seeds, this global network of Christians calls for investment in agroecology. Why? Because it works.

Kathryn Gilje
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Poised for global action on chemicals?

This week, PAN International is gathered with governments from across the globe in Nairobi, Kenya, pushing assertive and fair action on chemicals. Our goal: protect the health and well-being of our families and ecosystems the world over.

The auspices for the gathering: it's time to check progress on the Strategic Approach to Integrated Chemicals Management (better known as SAICM), an agreed-upon global plan of action to reduce to a minimum the harm chemicals wreak on health and ecosystems by 2020.

Kathryn Gilje
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Hands off my ovaries, chemical industry

When it comes to ovaries, I get protective. Infertility, endometriosis, and fibroids aren't words I should have to use as frequently as I do. And I'm not the only one noticing this disturbing trend. Women around me agree that something is definitely wrong.

Science is increasingly pointing to chemicals in our lives that act as endocrine disruptors, causing problems associated with reproductive health. According to an article in Environmental Health News last week, "Several new studies are adding to the evidence that some estrogen-mimicking pesticides and industrial chemicals may increase women's risk of uterine and ovarian diseases — helping to solidify a theory that emerged two decades ago."

Kathryn Gilje
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Monsanto's dirty soil = diabetes?!

Anniston, Alabama: another case where a chemical corporation ran above the law, and left tragic consequences for generations to come. The families of West Anniston live with the legacy of a Monsanto plant, and the toxic soil Monsanto left behind. Now the science shows that residents have diabetes from exposure to chemicals (PCBs, in particular) in that soil. Those with diabetes are mostly African American, and mostly women. Truly, their health has been taken away, even as safer alternatives to compounds such as these exist. 

Kathryn Gilje
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Syngenta settles, but atrazine Kool-Aid still strong

On May 25, Syngenta settled the lawsuit brought against them by water systems across the country, agreeing to pay more than $100 million to clean up contamination with their endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine. Former Chief Justice Michael Wolff of the Missouri Supreme Court called the settlement a remarkable achievement that will have far-reaching impact on the safety and quality of public drinking water.

This lawsuit is a hard-fought, symbolic victory. To make it mean more, we need policy protections and we need Syngenta lobbyists to let scientists and government officials do their jobs.

Kathryn Gilje
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Don't drink the atrazine Kool-Aid

The controversial pesticide atrazine, found in U.S. drinking water and linked to cancers, birth defects and low fertility, is on the big screen this weekend. And Syngenta, largest pesticide corporation in the world and maker of atrazine, is fighting with fire.

The chemical giant's PR machine is in high gear, downplaying the risks of atrazine exposure and even claiming that its gender-bending chemical can save the day. Greenwashing at its best.

Kathryn Gilje

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