Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Kristin Schafer's blog

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An ounce of prevention, please

For the past month, pink ribbons have been everywhere — along with bracelets, shoes, t-shirts, even pink KFC buckets.

Yet for all this colorful breast cancer awareness, somehow we're still not talking about one of the key things we can do to prevent the disease: stop eating, drinking and breathing cancer-causing chemicals.

Kristin Schafer
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A mom's pitch for going to the polls

As a working mom, I've learned the value of setting priorities, and the importance of thinking about how today's decisions affect the future. That's why I'll be voting on Tuesday, and I'm pestering my family, friends and neighbors to do the same.

The outcome of this year's national elections will determine whether and how we, as a country, prioritize issues I care a lot about — issues like safe food, children's health, protection of workers and support for family farms.

Kristin Schafer
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Up-to-date science on breast cancer & chemicals

Every October, The Breast Cancer Fund updates State of the Evidence. The report examines the latest on what scientists know about the links between chemicals in the environment and breast cancer. The 2010 edition is chock full of information on how pesticides and other chemicals (in food packaging, cosmetics, health care products, household cleaners and more) are contributing to our breast cancer epidemic.

Kristin Schafer
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DDT & Obesity: New science on harms of old pesticide

Plenty of calcium, fruits, vegetables & exercise. No drinking, no smoking, cut down on caffeine. Oh, and avoid DDT breakdown products — they may put your soon-to-be-born baby on the road to obesity.

Researchers in Spain say they were surprised to find this link between DDT and overweight infants. Turns out when women of normal weight have higher levels of DDE (DDT’s breakdown product) in their blood during pregnancy, their babies are twice as likely to grow quickly during the first 6 months of life, and 4 times as likely to be overweight when they reach the 14-month mark.

Kristin Schafer
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"Walking the talk" on kids health

There’s plenty of talk in Washington DC these days about the importance of keeping kids healthy. From Michelle Obama’s initiatives promoting healthy eating and exercise to EPA leader Lisa Jackson’s emphasis on children’s health, politicians and policymakers are recognizing the importance of creating healthy environments for kids.

The Obama Administration has a chance to “walk the talk” in Geneva next week, when experts from around the world will discuss the fate of a new group of persistent pollutants being considered for global phase out. The link to kids health couldn’t be clearer: these chemicals build up in the environment and in our bodies, posing particular dangers to developing infants and children.

Kristin Schafer
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Real-life costs of slow decisions on pesticides

The glacial pace of government decision-making on pesticides is costly. Not just the cost of years of paperwork, collecting and reviewing the endless stream of industry studies. And not just the cost of medical care for those who are damaged by toxins before they are taken off the market.

Sometimes, slow decisions result in pesticide exposures that cause such harm they fundamentally change the course of a child’s life. A cost that’s so high, it really can’t even be measured.

Kristin Schafer
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News Flash: Carcinogens really do cause cancer

Those cancer-causing chemicals approved for widespread use on our farms and in everyday products? Well, they’re causing cancer. Lots of it.

The numbers are staggering, really. According to a report delivered to the White House last month by the prestigious President’s Cancer Panel, 41 percent of the U.S. population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans can expect to die from the disease.

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Will future generations be less contaminated? Lawmakers are deciding now.

I truly hope my grandchildren come into the world carrying fewer chemicals than my children did when they were born. My oldest just started high school, so any grandchildren are many years off. But members of Congress are deciding right now what chemicals my daughter will pass along to her children. My vote? As few as possible.

Senators and Representatives are considering a dangerous group of chemicals called “persistent, bioaccumulative toxins,” better known as PBTs. These chemicals can last for years in the environment — and in our bodies. Some travel the globe on swirling currents of wind and water, eventually settling in the polar regions. And many can damage our nervous, reproductive and immune systems at astonishingly low levels.

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Memo to Congress: Toxic chemicals wreak havoc on developing minds.

So it looks like Congress is finally beginning to take a serious look at toxic chemicals and how they affect our health. This week they heard from advocates, health professionals and parents calling for stronger laws to protect children from dangerous chemicals. The Senate subcommittee hearing included participants in the innovative biomonitoring study: Mind, Disrupted.

Kristin Schafer
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Choosing safer strawberries: Battle heats up over new cancer-causing pesticide

There’s nothing quite like a fresh, juicy strawberry. Our family lives near the central coast of California where most of the strawberries in the U.S. are grown, so we enjoy fresh-picked strawberries nearly year round.

What many people don’t know is that some of the nastiest pesticides are used in strawberry fields. Most non-organic berries are grown in soil that’s been zapped clean with chemicals that kill everything they touch. Fields are covered with huge tarps while pesticides are pumped in and the soil is stripped of all living things before planting. Workers, neighbors and parents sending their kids to school near strawberry fields dread fumigation season.

Kristin Schafer

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