Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Kristin Schafer's blog

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Chemicals, kids & precaution

More and more public health experts are turning their attention to how we can prevent childhood diseases, rather than hunting for cures. This was my takeaway from an inspiring two-day meeting of scientists in Austin earlier this month.

Children: Food and Environment, sponsored by our partners at the Children's Environmental Health Network, brought together dozens of pediatric researchers from a wide range of disciplines. All seemed to share a recognition that environmental exposures are playing a key role in undermining our children's health, and that the resulting problems are both urgent — and preventable.

Kristin Schafer
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EPA fails our kids, again

EPA just released its long overdue look at how the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos is affecting human health. Once again, we're beyond disappointed with the agency's lack of leadership when it comes to protecting children from pesticides.

On the good news side, the report does recognize (finally!) that this particular chemical poses unacceptable risks to farmworkers, and something must be done. The bad news? The solutions they propose don't go nearly far enough, plus they manage to completely dodge the growing evidence that chlorpyrifos can derail the development of children's brains.

Kristin Schafer
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Seeds of (policy) change

Before we move fully into the busy end-of-year season, it seems useful to take a moment to step back, take a breath and take stock of where we landed after the mid-term elections. Some surprisingly heartening lessons emerge.

We're all familiar with the high-level analysis by now — the very big impact of big money, ascension of climate-deniers to Senate leadership, polarization of politics, etc. But as you dig a bit deeper, a more optimistic picture comes into focus. From community pushback of corporate control to a rekindled conversation about national food policy, some very real, very hopeful shifts are in motion.

Kristin Schafer
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#ShiftHappens

Two weeks ago today, I was heading south for the inaugural "ShiftCon" gathering in Los Angeles. It was a fascinating event, attracting hundreds of women (and a handful of men) committed to "Shifting the Conversation" about health, wellness and the environment through social media activism.

My top two takeaways left me feeling optimistic. The first relates directly to our campaign work here at PAN: the pesticide problem is now front and center in the conversation about GE crops, and the link between the two is crystal clear. This is hugely encouraging. And the second? It may be obvious, but at ShiftCon it was palpable: the social media world is an astonishingly active and powerful place.

Kristin Schafer
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California schoolkids in harm's way

This is very powerful data. A new, first-of-its-kind report from California's Department of Health (DPH) shows that health-harming agricultural pesticides are being sprayed close to schools across the state.

Not just a few pesticides, either — or a few schools. More than 500,000 California children in hundreds of schools spend their days within 1/4 mile of pesticide applications. Of these, more than 100,000 (mostly Latino) children in 226 schools attend classrooms near fields with the heaviest use of dangerous chemicals. We have a problem.

Kristin Schafer

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