GroundTruth Blog

Medha Chandra's blog

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September was a good month for wins against hazardous pesticides. China took steps to end the use of the persistent pesticide endosulfan — as did Mexico, which will ban it fully by January 2015. Costa Rica announced it will stop using the ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide. And El Salvador banned a host of pesticides in one fell swoop.

Many PAN partners and allies were involved in campaigns against these pesticides, and these health-protective actions from around the world are inspiring us in the U.S. to keep up the good fight.

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It’s back to school time, and as a parent I am trying to make sure my kids have what they need to succeed in class. But there are things I can't protect them from, like pesticides kids across the U.S. are exposed to in their food, air and water — some of which may be impeding their ability to learn.

Brain-harming pesticides like chlorpyrifos continue to be used in agriculture even though well-regarded scientific studies show that this chemical can harm kids’ intelligence and lead to several neurodevelopmental delays. As a mom, and someone who follows the science on pesticides, the fact that chlorpyrifos is still commonly used makes me furious.

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Earlier this year, EPA banned certain rodenticide products found to be particularly harmful to children, pets and non-target wildlife. As I reported in previous blogs, the company Reckitt-Benckiser — which manufactures d-Con rat control products — filed a legal challenge against EPA’s decision.

While the legal process drags on, the hazardous rodent control products remain on the market. But an exciting new resource highlights alternatives to hazards like d-Con. Launched this week by a California-based coalition, the new website lays out various options available for safe rodent control in homes and businesses.

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Recently authorities in Vietnam discovered that tons of potatoes for sale in the open market in the town of Da Lat were contaminated with residues of a neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos — at levels 16 times higher than the level permitted. Yes, 16 times higher than residues considered ‘safe’ by Vietnamese authorities.

Imagine a Vietnamese child eating potatoes from this lot. My skin crawls as I think about it. These potatoes were imported from China, so that makes me think that there are similarly contaminated potatoes circulating in Chinese markets too. Asian children are not alone in facing exposure to chlorpyrifos, as U.S. children continue to be exposed to chlorpyrifos through the food they eat and — for rural children — through the air they breathe.

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I have wonderful news to share. Delegates to the Stockholm Convention meeting in Geneva just agreed that the best alternative to the hazardous pesticide endosulfan is agroecology. This is a huge step that PAN and our allies have long pushed for.

The Stockholm Convention listed endosulfan for global phase out back in 2011. The pesticides officially suggested as alternatives were mostly hazardous as well, according to a careful PAN analysis. In an effort led by PAN scientist Dr. Meriel Watts, the Convention reviewed possible non-chemical alternatives, and found that a strong case could be made for ecosystem-based solutions. Late last week, the delegates officially endorsed this approach.