Kristin Schafer's blog | Pesticide Action Network
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Kristin Schafer's blog

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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The pesticide's use in pet products were withdrawn long ago.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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Talking about kids' health

We're excited. The report we released earlier this month — A Generation in Jeopardy — is getting people talking about how pesticides are harming our children, and what we can do about it.

A national conversation is a first, important step. Next up? Decisive action that gets harmful pesticides out of kids' daily lives.

Kristin Schafer
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Pediatricians enter the organic debate. Media miss the boat.

Yesterday the American Academy of Pediatrics weighed in on organic food. They found that "an organic diet reduces children's exposure to pesticides," and highlighted studies linking pesticides with many of the childhood health harms included in PAN's recent report, A Generation in Jeopardy.

Unfortunately, media coverage of APA's report has been all over the map. And given the power of headlines to shape public debate in ways that directly impact policymakers' appetite for taking on tough issues, this failure on the part of news desks and editors to report the substance of the science accurately is a serious problem.

Kristin Schafer
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Protecting kids from pesticides: It's time.

Today's children are less healthy than they were a generation ago, and science shows that pesticides are contributing to the trend. This is the core finding of PAN's new report, released today with partners in California, Minnesota and Iowa.

As a mom who, like all parents, cares deeply about the health of my kids, I find the report both profoundly disturbing and deeply motivating. As one of the report co-authors, I'm hoping A Generation in Jeopardy will be used to jumpstart a long overdue national conversation about how pesticides are undermining our children's health and intelligence — and how we can do better.

Kristin Schafer
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Baby teeth to provide autism clues

Teeth swiped from tooth fairies could provide important information about the link between chemicals and autism. Researchers are excited.

We already know that timing is a critical piece of the autism/chemical connection. Scientists now say that by grinding up baby teeth, they can accurately measure not only what toxicants children have been exposed to, but precisely when.

Kristin Schafer
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A big step towards stronger chemical policy

Three cheers for sanity on Capitol Hill! For the first time in 36 years, lawmakers voted Wednesday to strengthen the national law governing toxic chemicals. If it keeps moving and becomes law, the bill will tighten the rules governing those 84,000+ substances that make their way into our homes in everything from baby bottles to seat cushions.

True, it was the first of many steps: a committee vote in the Senate. But it's a huge, important move in the right direction — made in the face of strong pushback from the chemical industry. And it's long overdue.

Kristin Schafer

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