GroundTruth Blog

is PAN's Program & Policy Director. Follow @KristinAtPAN

Kristin Schafer's blog

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Seventy-six million. U.S. farms are doused with that many pounds of the herbicide atrazine every year. That's a lot of any chemical — and scientists link this one to birth defects, infertility and the "chemical castration" of frogs.

Next week, EPA's science advisors will wrap up a 2-year process of rethinking atrazine, based on the latest studies of its health and environmental harms. People across the country will be watching closely to see just what happens next. So, without a doubt, will the Syngenta corporation.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

My grandfather's Parkinson's was pretty far along by the time I knew him. I remember as a 4-year-old straining to understand his tremoring voice which — when combined with his thick Swedish accent — was almost impossible for me and my sister to understand. Even as a small child, I could tell it broke his heart.

In a study released last week, researchers explain exactly how pesticides can interact with the brain to trigger this incurable disease. Their findings may help prevent and treat Parkinson's for future generations.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

It's been more than a few years now, but I remember the roller coaster ride of pregnancy like it was yesterday. Nine months of bouncing from giddy excitement to mind-bending worry, pure joy to frantic nesting. Powerful emotions are amplified by equally powerful hormones, working overtime.

As scientists report yet again this week, those churning hormones also make exposure to pesticides during pregnancy especially dangerous. Birth defects, autism, lower IQ, reduced birth weight, infertility — the risk of these life-changing impacts is higher for infants conceived during spray season or carrying pesticides in their cordblood. Yikes.

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Last week a friend posted a slideshow of her niece on facebook. The girl's father had written a song to accompany the photos of his daughter's battle with leukemia. It made me cry.

The fact that a 5-year-old girl should have to summon such courage takes me quickly from tears to anger. Children should not be battling cancer, yet more and more are forced to do exactly that. A report released last week confirmed that childhood cancer rates are higher than ever before, and continue to climb. 

Kristin Schafer's blog
By Kristin Schafer,

Autism affects many, many more children than we thought, according to a study released this week that stunned experts around the world. Meanwhile, evidence keeps rolling in that exposure to pesticides and other chemicals is at least partly responsible for the epidemic.

We may have finally reached the tipping point, where policymakers can no longer wring their hands and call for more studies — and where wearing a blue ribbon in April to raise awareness is clearly just not enough.