Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Medha Chandra's blog

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On Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day is on April 2 this year. It's a day to shine a light on this condition and reaffirm our support for adults and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and for their families. It's also a day to learn more about what increases risks of autism — and to think about prevention.

Medha Chandra
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"Little Things Matter" in India, too

We’ve often talked about how low-dose exposure to pesticides are a serious cause for concern, and at the root of many health problems for children. Last fall, Dr. Bruce Lanphear — a physician and professor of pediatrics from Simon Fraser University in Canada — released a video entitled Little Things Matter, clearly illustrating the impact of chemicals on children's developing brains.

I’m very happy to report that Dr. Lanphear recently toured India to spread the word about the harms of low-dose exposures to pesticides and other common environmental toxins. Over the course of the five-city tour he met with medical students, fellow doctors, the media, concerned community groups and policymakers.

Medha Chandra
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For the kids

Children around the globe are routinely exposed to pesticides — and sometimes the outcomes are drastic. It’s been over two years since school children in a village in Bihar, India fell severely ill from eating a pesticide-laden lunch, leading to the death of 22.

I’m writing to remember that tragic and avoidable incident, and to remind myself that children remain at risk — here in the U.S. and around the world — when our industrial agricultural system continues to depend on the use of highly hazardous pesticides.

Medha Chandra
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DPR: Too little, too slow on chlorpyrifos

California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced today that the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos is now a "restricted use" pesticide. Sounds pretty impressive, right? But wait, it’s actually not that great.

What it really means is this: anyone wanting to use chlorpyrifos in the state now has to file additional paperwork with county agricultural commissioners. Some conditions may apply once use is approved, such as adhering to small "protection zones" — which can be as little as 25 to 150 feet — around sprayed fields. We think California's children and rural communities deserve much better.

Medha Chandra
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Victory! Another global pesticide ban.

An important victory and a disappointing setback came out of the global policy meetings I wrote about recently. The victory is a huge one: civil society leaders helped to secure a worldwide ban of the pesticide pentachlorophenol (PCP) under the Stockholm Convention. 

In a dramatic twist, participating countries took the historic step of 'voting to vote' instead of trying to achieve consensus, as is the norm. The step was taken in response to a few countries' aggressive efforts to thwart progress.

Medha Chandra
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Bringing local truths to global policies

Every year, our PAN International partners carry out amazing on-the-ground campaigns for safer food systems. As a network, we also have a long history of influencing global policies by participating in international treaties. One such gathering is taking place right now in Geneva, and PAN activists from all five regional centers are participating.

The key role PAN plays in these meetings is bringing the realities of pesticide exposures — both the latest science and stories from the field — into the room where high-level decisions are being made. Our active participation has led to significant wins over the years, like a global ban of the hazardous pesticide endosulfan, and strong restrictions on the use of DDT.

Medha Chandra
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Thankful for bounty, motivated for change


At my Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, we’ll be talking about what we’re thankful for. I'm very thankful to live in the resource-rich state of California, the topmost producer of fruits and vegetables in the country. And I'm thankful for the hard, often dangerous work that thousands of farmworkers do across the state to help bring nature’s bounty to our table. 

I'm also thankful for the growing awareness that food choices matter. People in California — and across the country — are beginning to see that choosing food grown without chemical pesticides is not only healthier for their own families, but can help protect the health of farmers and farmworkers, families in rural communities and children everywhere. This is real and exciting progress.

Medha Chandra

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