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

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Rivers & fish win policy battle — for now

As of this week, it looks like our rivers, streams and lakes — and the critters who live in them — will be a little more protected from pesticides.

Unless, that is, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and others representing agribusiness interests manage to undo EPA’s court-ordered efforts to better protect the nation’s waterways from pesticide pollution. Roberts and company are pursuing every legislative hat trick in the book. But so far, cleaner water and healthier fish are coming out ahead.

Kristin Schafer
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Pink ribbons for prevention: It's time.

We've come through yet another pink-ribboned October. It's hard to miss the symbol of breast cancer awareness, it's on everything from perfume packaging to baby bottles to fast food takeout cups.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure we don't need reminding that breast cancer's a problem. If you haven't gone through the battle yourself, odds are you've supported someone — friend, sister, mother, daughter, partner — who has. We're plenty aware. Now it's time to make October's pink ribbons all about what we can do to prevent this devastating disease.

Kristin Schafer
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Sneak attack on pesticide law foiled — for now

Last week, our national pesticide laws were the target of a sneak attack. An amendment that would have stripped EPA's power to protect our nation's waterways was attached to — of all things — the completely unrelated China Currency bill.

If the stakes weren't so high, it would be laughable. Attached as an amendment to what? Thanks in no small part to hundreds of outraged phone calls to the Senate from PAN supporters, the offending amendment was pulled — for the time being.

Kristin Schafer
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Heinz Awards honor humor, poetry & science

From edgy films about sustainable food to intimately personal stories about the dangers of chemicals in the womb, this year’s Heinz Award winners bring a powerful blend of poetry, science and humor to their work. 

Since 1994, this award has honored people doing extraordinary things in an area important to the late Senator John Heinz. This year’s winners are working to protect our environment, and they're doing it with creative flare.

Kristin Schafer
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If it smells like a rat...

There's good news and bad news on the pesticide front this week. Let's take the good news first: A sting operation in New York City got 6,000+ packages of dangerous, illegal rat poison off shop shelves. Hats off to the public servants who got this done!

The bad news comes in two parts: First, the fact that products like this can slip through the cracks of our pesticide control system is downright frightening. And second, industry lawyers are busily weakening one of the few tools EPA officials have to quickly pull pesticide products from the market when they're found to be harmful. Really guys?

Kristin Schafer
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Let's get this brain toxin off the menu

As parents, we have plenty on our minds as we settle into a new school year — new teachers, carpools, sibling rivalry — the list goes on. We really shouldn't have to add this: apples and peaches we're packing in our kids' lunchbags may expose them to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to lower IQs and increase risk of ADHD. I'm sorry, what??

If you ask me, the following scenario makes much more sense: Fruits and veggies help make kids healthy and smart. Farming with chemicals like chlorpyrifos that harm children is unthinkable. And what we pack for lunch doesn't risk damage to our child's nervous system.

Kristin Schafer
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Pesticide-free soap — finally!

At long last, the writing is on the wall for triclosan. FDA is still finalizing their review of the “anti-microbial” pesticide, but according to the New York Times, companies are already starting to pull it out of their hand soaps, face washes and baby toys.

It's so very nice to see common sense prevail! Of course it has taken, um, nearly 40 years.

Kristin Schafer
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Atrazine review is a much needed 'do-over'

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
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Breakthrough could => Parkinson's prevention

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
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Birth defects linked to pesticides, again

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

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