Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Kristin Schafer's blog

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Let's make our schools healthy & safe

Like any parent, when I drop off my kids at school, I want to trust they'll be safe. Safe from violence, safe from bullying, safe from diseases and pests — and safe from pesticides that can cause them harm.

As evidence continues to pile up that pesticides can harm children's health and development, many schools are finding ways to control pests on school grounds without spraying dangerous chemicals. A new report from our coalition partners, Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR), outlines the scope of the problem, the most innovative solutions, and ways parents and policymakers alike can help get pesticides out of school buildings and playgrounds.

Kristin Schafer
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Lawmakers tackle persistent chemicals - yay!

Today we are one step closer to protecting kids in this country — and around the globe — from persistent chemicals.

A group of senators proposed a new law this week to revamp our 35-year-old system of managing toxic chemicals. Our friends in Washington tell us this version of the bill is stronger than the attempt that stalled in Congress last year. How very refreshing to have good news coming out of DC!

Kristin Schafer
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Lice comb trumps lindane on global stage

It's official: A specially designed comb works just as well to control headlice as shampoos laced with lindane. As an added bonus, there's no exposure to neurotoxins involved.

Later this month in Geneva, a simple, effective lice comb designed by the National Pediculosis Association (NPA) — a small U.S. nonprofit group — will finally get the thumbs up it deserves.

Kristin Schafer
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Why the POPs treaty matters: One mom's view

I couldn't bring 9-month-old Connor with me when I attended my first POPs treaty meeting in Bonn, so I brought my breastmilk pump instead. I vividly remember struggling with my rusty German to convince the women in the conference center kitchen to store my milk in the deep freeze.

As a nursing mother, participating in the POPs treaty meetings took on a very personal dimension. Here's why: persistent chemicals build up in food chains across the globe, and this is a key reason the treaty exists. Human milk — nature's perfect food for infants — is at the very top of the food chain. This is why POPs show up so often in breastmilk.

Kristin Schafer
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Cancer scientists get pushy about prevention

As evidence linking pollutants and cancer becomes increasingly clear, scientists around the world are calling for something to be done — and they're getting downright pushy about it.

Well maybe not pushy, exactly. But definitely pointed and impatient as they urge policymakers to take steps now to protect us from chemicals that cause cancer.

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Is our food system toxic? Doctors & scientists weigh in

How does our food production system drive our exposure to toxic chemicals? Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) posed this question to members of its Environmental Health Policy Institute. A cohort of very smart and engaged health professionals and scientists responded.

The resulting collection of essays is thought-provoking and compelling — absolutely worth your time to explore. I encourage you to clear your desk and your mind, get yourself a fresh cup of (maybe organic?) coffee or tea, and dive in.

Kristin Schafer
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Time for a cancer prevention plan, Mr. President

Childhood. Cancer. These two words should have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Childhood is about exploration and discovery, joyful learning about the world around us. Cancer is about fear, roller coasters of painful treatment and hopeful remission, and all too often, death.

Yet the two words are indeed linked. Childhood cancers — including brain cancer and leukemia — have been on a steady rise in this country for the last 20 years. And increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals is known to be one of the reasons behind this horrifying trend. It's time to turn the numbers around.

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Yet again, 'safer' pesticides prove harmful

Turns out a new generation of supposedly safer pesticides isn't so safe after all. In the latest entry of a growing body of evidence, scientists announced last week that pyrethroid pesticides — now in hundreds of pest control products sold for home use — can interfere with the healthy development of an infant's nervous system when moms are exposed during pregnancy. Here we go again.

History tells us that substituting one type of pesticide for another "safer" variety just doesn't work out very well.

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Chemicals in the womb: A bad idea

Last week, researchers found a host of toxic chemicals in the bodies of pregnant women throughout the U.S. Industry reps quickly trotted out their favorite messages in response: "Chemicals are a fact of modern life," "just because toxins are in your body doesn't mean they'll hurt you," and "the levels are too low to matter - researchers have new tools that can measure extremely low levels." 

The fact is, low levels of chemicals in the womb can matter a whole lot. And studies like last week's make the chemical industry very, very nervous.

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Autism: Doc pledges "Most Wanted Chemicals" list

Doctors are rolling up their sleeves to search for the causes of autism. Dr. Philip Landrigan announced last week that he's rounding up a scientific posse to identify a "Most Wanted Chemicals" list based on the latest information linking environmental contaminants to Autism Spectrum Disorder. It's high time.

Kristin Schafer

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