GroundTruth Blog

Kristin Schafer's blog

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In the past year, there have been a slew of studies showing that when a child is exposed to certain pesticides — whether before birth or while eating conventionally-grown food — his or her IQ may drop. Sometimes by several points.

But what does this really mean? As a society, what might the impacts be? In short, should we be worried? The answer, according to one recent study, is an emphatic and sobering "yes".

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Lawmakers are taking another run at weakening the national rules protecting our waterways.

This time, they're using the specter of West Nile virus to make the case for reviving a pesticide loophole that was recently closed. But their arguments simply don't (ahem) hold water, and PAN and our allies are calling on the Senate leadership to hold the line.

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Two recent studies report new evidence of the harms of a very old pesticide.

It's that pesky, persistent and infamous chemical, DDT. Nearly 40 years after its use in agriculture was banned in many countries around the world, it's still present in our environment, food and bodies at levels that harm human health. And children, once again, are especially vulnerable.

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When I worked in Kenya many years ago, I visited a small farm where they processed chrysanthemums for use as a natural pest killer. I vividly remember the powerful, not unpleasant smell rising from the mesh shelves where the flowers were drying in the sun.

You'd think a pesticide based on flowers would be harmless, right? The promoters of synthetic pyrethroids — which mimic the natural pyrethrum extracted from chrysanthemums — certainly want us to think so. But once again, the latest batch of "safer" pesticides are not as harmless as we thought, and pose particular risks to children. Unfortunately, EPA seems to be turning a blind eye to emerging evidence, and is poised to open the floodgates to more pyrethroid products and uses.

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When my daughter was in kindergarten, she would inspect her friends' strawberries at lunchtime. “No no, you don’t want to eat that,” she would solemnly inform them. “It’s not organic. It might have yucky chemicals on it.”

Yucky chemicals indeed. Studies continue to pile up showing how pesticides on food can be harmful, especially to children's health. As we head into the home stretch of the holiday feast season, I've been thinking hard about the powerful ripple effects of our food choices. Turns out, what we eat matters. A lot.