GroundTruth Blog

Linda Wells's blog

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Are you ready for spring? For most of us, that means house cleaning and a welcome wardrobe change. But for farmers and other rural residents it means hard work and often, bracing for the impact of pesticide drift. It means waiting to see if their crops will be damaged, and guessing which days they'll have to keep the kids indoors.

PAN is ready, and so are more rural residents. Late last month I traveled with my colleagues Emily Marquez and Lex Horan through Iowa and Minnesota certifying people to use a simple tool to monitor pesticide drift. We won't be able to stop the drift from coming this spring, but we'll be gathering important, on-the-ground data to help strengthen state and federal pesticide rules. 

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The public comment period for Dow's new genetically engineered, 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy closed yesterday. And despite comments from nearly 400,000 concerned individuals and farmers urging otherwise, USDA has signaled it will likely greenlight these new GE crops.

The comment period concluded on the eve of another historical date for the seed market. Four years ago today, the Department of Justice convened antitrust hearings to investigate consolidation of the seed market. There has been no follow through from these hearings, and we're still waiting for an explanation from the DOJ. In the meantime, corporations like Dow and Monsanto continue to consolidate control of global seed markets. Dow's new 2,4-D ready crops will be yet another driver of this consolidation.

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Something courageous happened today. A small group of farmers and rural residents dared to hold McDonald's accountable to its promises. Since 2006, PAN has been working with a grassroots coalition of farmers and White Earth tribal members to document the pesticide problem in the potato-producing regions of Minnesota.

Now, after seven years of talking to agencies, testifying in the state legislature and negotiating with the producer, community members are stepping into the public eye and asking for support. The campaign is called Toxic Taters, and the request is simple: McDonald’s has promised to reduce pesticide use in the production of their potatoes. It’s time for the company to make good on that promise.

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If you're like me, you've known for awhile that the U.S. is negotiating a new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but you haven't taken the time to figure out exactly why it matters. Hey, I don't blame us — there's a reason it's hard to understand: the corporations and governments negotiating the deal don't want our opinions slowing down their shiny new free-trade agreement.

In fact, if everything goes as planned, very few of us — not reporters, only a handful of legislators, and certainly not you and me — will get to read the deal before it is signed into law. But this past week there have been some big hiccups in that plan, making me think it is actually possible to stop this thing if we all start paying attention right now.

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This week I had the immense pleasure of attending the 4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference was hosted by the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN), one of PAN's partners in our Midwest Drift Catching work.

With approximately 400 participants, the conference brings together women farmers, advocates and landowners from across the country to share resources and dialogue about solutions for transitioning to a more sustainable food system. It was an incredible event — three days of women sharing their deepest hopes and smartest strategies about how to improve agriculture.