GroundTruth Blog

Margaret Reeves's blog

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What does the federal Farm Bill have to do with a healthy diet? More than you'd think, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

To get more fresh produce into our diets we need to reverse the policies that put up barriers — rather than provide incentives — for farmers to produce the fresh fruits and vegetables so urgently needed in the diets of most of us in the U.S.

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Farmers who protect their soil using organic or other sustainable methods often encounter hurdles that other farmers do not. Current policies provide disproportionately little support for such farming practices depite the clear benefits — for the soil, the environment, human health and economic growth.

This week the U.S. Senate will have a chance to partially correct this by supporting Food and Farm Bill amendments that link crop insurance to sound farming practices. We know that good stewardship builds diverse agroecosystems that are inherently less risky than conventional sytems. Less risk with greater protection of soil and other natural resources? That's where I want my tax dollars to go.

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In the 1930s, Congress made a commitment to protect the soil and water resources on U.S. farms from massive, rapid losses (think dust bowl).

While progress has been made in the intervening decades, soil erosion remains a huge problem. As the Senate is poised to vote on the 2012 Food and Farm bill, we're working with our partners in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to fight for those programs that best protect vital soil resources — and you can help.

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This kind of evidence can't be ignored. Scientists report that the risk of Parkinson’s Disease is significantly greater for individuals with a history of exposure to pesticides. They reached this conclusion after reviewing data from six decades of research.

The results were strongest for exposure to weedkillers and insecticides; not so strong for those pesticides designed to kill disease-causing fungi. And the risk was greatest when exposure was associated with work activities, such as applying pesticides in the field.

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This week PAN joined farmworkers and farmworker advocates in urging Congress to protect a small, unsung program that’s vital to the health and safety of the nation's nearly two million farmworkers: pesticide recordkeeping.

USDA's Pesticide Recordkeeping Program is on the congressional chopping block, though it has long served as an essential tool for the proper identification, treatment and ultimately, prevention of pesticide-related illnesses that are far too common among U.S. farmworkers.