GroundTruth Blog

Kristin Schafer's blog

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There's a new toxics bill in town. A few weeks ago, a draft law emerged in the Senate to overhaul the dramatically outdated national rules that govern "industrial chemicals" — aka the thousands of impossible-to-pronounce ingredients in everyday products, from household cleaners to couches, water bottles to children's toys.

Major reform of these rules is long overdue, but unfortunately the new bill is problematic. Unless significantly strengthened, it won't do enough to protect the most vulnerable among us — particularly our children — from the harms of toxic chemicals. We can, and must, do better.

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Don't do it, Senators. Yet again, an attempt is in the works to roll back protections of our streams and rivers — along with the critters who live in them and communities that rely on them — from harmful pesticides.

This time the push to weaken our national water law takes the form of two nearly identical amendments to the Senate's version of the Farm Bill (#1100 and #1103). The rollback effort first showed up as a proposed amendment to the China Currency Bill (no really!) in the fall of 2011. It's since been introduced several times as a stand-alone law, and showed up in a coordinated media push by conservative lawmakers. This is a bad idea that needs to be shut down once and for all.

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I'm looking forward to Sunday morning. Breakfast in bed, flowers and chocolate — plus sweet, handmade cards from kids who often don't take the time to say thanks. What's not to like?

But I also like the fact that Mother's Day was actually founded to celebrate moms taking action to protect their children and communities. And it's in that spirit that I'd like to honor all the moms working to keep kids safe from harmful pesticides — from my colleagues here in the PAN office to the thousands of supporters and partners taking action in the U.S. and around the world. You are amazing.

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Experts at CDC recently released another round of data on how many kids in the U.S. are affected by autism and ADHD. The numbers are, once again, dramatically up.

One in five boys are now diagnosed with ADHD by the time they reach high school. And one in 50 kids are on the autism spectrum, up from 1 in 88 just last spring. Interestingly, some of the news stories on these latest trends are — finally — noting the science linking pesticides and other chemicals with derailed brain development. This is exactly where the conversation needs to go.

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Access to information can be a powerful thing. The pesticide industry understands this, which must be why they're fighting tooth and nail to block — for the third time — a commonsense law that would require pesticide use reporting in Maryland.

But the people of Maryland are fighting back. A strong coalition has formed around the "Smart on Pesticides" law, which is being considered right now by state legislators. They're making the case that children, communities and the precious Chesapeake Bay will all be better protected if decisionmakers know what pesticides are being used and where. A very simple — and very smart — idea.