GroundTruth Blog

Kathryn Gilje's blog

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Once more, science shows that pesticide exposure is linked to serious health harms, and children bear the brunt of the cost.

A recent study revealed that persistent pesticides and pollutants are related to a 450% increase in two specific birth defects across rural China: spina bifida and anencephaly.

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Last week in Peru 90 people were poisoned and at least three children died from donated food contaminated with pesticides. A horrifying example of the on-the-ground consequences of broken policy.

If only this were an isolated incident. But the reality is, tragedies like this happen because the rules on pesticides just don't workNot in the U.S., and not in many countries around the world.

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I was born 20 miles from the Canadian border, as the crow flies. Childhood runs for a 'mack' and regular trips to the border were common. But this week, my Canadian journey was quite different: to Ottawa, seat of the Canadian government, and to a convergence of over 50 pesticide regulators from 30 countries, the global CEO of the pesticide industry, grower organizations, and PAN.

I had the honor of representing PAN at the 1stInternational Gathering of Heads of Pesticide Regulatory Authorities, convened by the Canadian government. The meeting offered a rare opportunity to think outside the box with pesticide rulemakers from around the world.

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In some circles, it would be called a bribe, at best. Evidence revealed last week shows that Monsanto's former Chief Financial Officer admitted that the agrichemical corporation planned to spend $150 million in cash and trade incentives in Latin America, North America and Europe to spur the uptake of the pesticide glyphosate, better known as RoundUp. $150 million is no small change — and surely that's not all that's been spent.

The news came to light last week as part of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Sadly, small farmers around the world know all too well the carrot and stick approaches that Monsanto and other pesticide giants use to lure farmers (and nations) toward industrial agriculture and onto the pesticide treadmill.

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The smell of earth is the first thing I always notice when I return to the Midwest. I grew up among the lakes and prairies of this region, and though I am intrigued by the salty, tangy smell of the sea that comes in with the fog where I now live, it's the smell of soil that grounds me, and brings me home.

Traveling to Oklahoma and through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota this week, I have been honored to deliver 6,101 thank you notes from the PAN community, expressing sincere appreciation to farmers for their innovation and hard work to grow good food that nourishes us, while also stewarding the earth and keeping that soil alive.