GroundTruth Blog

Kristin Schafer's blog

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Scientists issued yet another wake up call last week, adding more chemicals to the list of those known to harm our children's brains. These neurotoxicants — including the common pesticide chlorpyrifos — are linked to falling IQs, increased risk of ADHD and other developmental disorders.

Now here's the really extraordinary part of the story: the researchers conclude that it's time to "accelerate the translation of science into prevention." In other words, we need to do something about this problem. Now.

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Scan the ingredient list of many "antibacterial" soaps and body washes, and you'll find triclosan. This pesticide — yes, I said pesticide — is so widely used that it's now found in most of our bodies. And after decades of thinking about it, FDA is finally saying "enough."

It turns out some significant risks are linked to triclosan, including altering how hormones work in our bodies, undermining our immune systems and making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Oh, and according to FDA experts, it doesn't seem to get hands or bodies any cleaner than good old soap and water.

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Today, our PAN partners in Asia are releasing an in-depth, global study on children and pesticides. As a mom, I'm both deeply thankful for this report and profoundly frustrated that it needs to be written at all.

Dr. Meriel Watts reviewed hundreds of scientific studies from around the world, and found that children across the globe face serious — and growing — health harms from exposure to pesticides. Her report then outlines clear, doable steps to making real change.

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In the spring of 2012, we profiled a courageous mother from Argentina who took on Monsanto to protect her children and her community from pesticide harms. Sofia Gatica received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her inspiring organizing efforts.

Now the story continues. The Associated Press recently published an in-depth story on the spiraling use of pesticides in Argentina, and the resulting health harms. With careful and compelling reporting, the piece highlights how GE crops dramatically drive up pesticide use, and puts a human face — including Sofia's family and many others — on the reality of pesticide-dependent agriculture. Please read this hugely important story.

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When you're pregnant, there's a lot to think about. If it's your first, you're vaguely aware that your life is about to change forever. In the meantime, you worry. Am I eating right? Taking the right vitamins? And just what do I need to know about pesticides and other harmful chemicals during pregnancy?

The critical importance of this last question just got an official nod from the largest national organization of OB/GYNs. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a groundbreaking report last month recommending that every mother-to-be receive advice in prenatal visits on how to avoid chemicals that can harm fetal development — and the future health of her child. This is a very good, very powerful idea.