Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Kristin Schafer's blog

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Another sneak attack on clean water law

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.

Kristin Schafer
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Protecting kids? Moms are on the job.

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.

Kristin Schafer
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ADHD & autism rates up, again. Prevention anyone?

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.

Kristin Schafer
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'Smart on Pesticides' bill draws industry fire

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.

Kristin Schafer
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Kids are at risk. What's the hold up?

Something's rotten in Denmark. Well, in DC actually. That's where the decision's been made — again and again and again — to keep a nasty insecticide called chlorpyrifos on the market. The result? A generation of kids is sicker and less smart.

I'm truly not being melodramatic, though I admit the story of chlorpyrifos does make me hopping mad. I'm particularly riled at the moment because EPA is taking another look at this pesticide, and is once again overlooking known dangers to children's health and developing minds. What's up with that?

Kristin Schafer
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Next EPA leader? This choice matters. A lot.

President Obama faces a profound decision as he considers who will step into Lisa Jackson's shoes. Over the past decade, EPA has become a lightening rod for the heated partisan debate about the size and role of government. The agency has also come to serve as a rhetorical punching bag for those determined to pit environmental protection against economic growth.

The next EPA leader's stance on these big picture issues will inform decisions with very "small picture" impacts, decisions that will directly affect the health and well being of families across the country. From tackling pesticides in our air, water and food to what we do about energy and climate change challenges, this choice will matter. Hugely.

Kristin Schafer
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Bad for adult brains, too.

On the heels of last week's strong report from pediatricians highlighting the harms pesticides can cause children's developing minds, a new study finds that pesticides are clearly harming adult brains, too.

In the "meta-analysis" published in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, scientists reviewed 14 separate studies of neurobehavioral changes linked to low-level organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposure. They found that workers exposed to OPs — particularly over long periods of time — had reduced working memory and were slower to process information.

Kristin Schafer
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Illegal on pets & seeds, but in kids' shampoo? No problem.

It makes no sense. FDA's decision this week to allow continued use of the neurotoxic pesticide lindane in children's lice shampoos has me completely stumped.

The pesticide's use in pet products were withdrawn long ago. Then agricultural uses were pulled, back in 2006. Yet FDA just re-blessed the lindane products that put children most directly at risk, shampoos applied to their heads and lotions to their bodies. These products have been banned for years in dozens of countries — including by our neighbors in Mexico — and in California since 2001. What is FDA thinking??

Kristin Schafer
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Pass the (pesticide-free) green beans, please!

Like others across the country, this Thursday I'll be joining extended family and friends to celebrate each other and the earth's bounty. I look forward to meeting up with cousins coming to town from distant cities, and enjoying the yummy dishes we'll all contribute to the feast.

I'm also hoping we keep the acephate, methamidophos and chlorothalonil off the menu. (Easy for me to say, right?) Sadly, according to government testing, these hard-to-pronounce pesticides are among those commonly found on green beans. And they're not good for you.

Kristin Schafer

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