GroundTruth Blog

Linda Wells's blog

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The Supreme Court of Minnesota recently issued a disappointing ruling on the legal rights of organic farmers faced with pesticide drift from neighboring farms.

As we reported some months ago, Oluf and Debra Johnson went to the courts when they lost their organic certification (and their crops) due to pesticide drift. They were looking for compensation for these losses, as well as future protection from pesticides drifting onto their farm. An appeals court had ruled favorably on their case — so the Johnsons were hoping for good news from the Supreme Court. Instead, the ruling severely limits potential compensation, and threatens organic enforcement standards across the state.

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Legal claims against the Big 6 pesticide company DuPont are piling up based on Imprelis, which has been linked to the loss of hundreds of thousands of trees nationwide.

Some 30,000 claims have been filed from individual homeowners, municipalities, landscapers and golf courses. There is also a class-action lawsuit in the works.

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Bonnie Wirtz is a new mom living in Melrose, Minnesota. She and her husband moved there to start a farm and raise a family.

What they weren't planning on were the consequences of living in close proximity to frequent pesticide application. After one alarming incident of pesticide drift that put Bonnie in the hospital, this Minnesota mom took up the battle cry against pesticides and how they can harm children's health.  

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On a rainy day in Iowa last month, I found myself crowded into a small building perched on the Mustard Seed Community Farm near Ames. I was joined by PAN's new staff scientist, Emily Marquez, and we were honored to teach a group of local farmers how to use the PAN Drift Catcher.

The training took place at a field day hosted by Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), and despite the downpour, we had a productive and fascinating afternoon.

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Today Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is releasing Pesticide Drift Monitoring in Minnesota, a report that documents multiple pesticides in the air near homes and farms throughout Central Minnesota. This report is the result of diligent, on-the-ground monitoring by a group of citizens who have directly experienced harm from pesticide exposure — and are refusing to let it continue.

Since joining PAN earlier this year, collaborating with this group of farmers and rural residents has been my absolute favorite work. Their persistence in shining a light on pesticide exposure in their communities has both given me hope and shown me the severity — and urgency — of the problem.