GroundTruth Blog

Medha Chandra's blog

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Did you know it was Poison Prevention Week last week? It is ironic that as we marked this week, we also grappled with the news that for the first time in nearly 20 years, a company went to court to challenge a decision by EPA to cancel one of their products — a pesticide that causes thousands of accidental poisonings each year.

Earlier this month Reckitt Benckiser — manufacturer of d-Con rat control products — filed a challenge against EPA’s decision to cancel specific over-the-counter rodenticide products, which are hazardous for children, pets and wildlife. No hearing date has been set, but the appeal could potentially drag on for years. Meanwhile, the products remain on the market.

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I have some very good news: EPA is banning a group of rat poisons known to be especially dangerous for children, pets and wildlife. Finally.

Apparently, the agency got tired of waiting for the manufacturer of d-CON mouse- and rat-killing products to voluntarily follow their safety guidelines. Instead, UK-based Reckitt Benckiser was spending its energy pushing back with an army of lawyers and lobbyists. This time, their tactics backfired.

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A new study from neurologists at UCLA adds to the growing scientific evidence showing an ever stronger link between exposure to pesticides and development of Parkinson’s disease.

This latest study documents how the fungicide benomyl triggers a cascade of events at the cellular level that increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s. The researchers say the findings clarify the role of naturally occurring enzymes in the brain, and may help in efforts to slow progression of the disease — even among those not exposed to pesticides. The study also confirms that avoiding pesticide exposure can only help.

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Over a year ago we blogged about the country’s broken pesticide regulatory system that is allowing certain rodenticides to remain on store shelves despite EPA declaring that they need to go. These are products that pose known health hazards to kids, pets and wildlife.

As the L.A. Times reports, rodenticide manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser has still not complied with EPA’s decision, and has joined with other companies to push back with lawyers and lobbyists. Earlier this week, a coalition of public-health and environmental groups did their own pushing in California, urging the Department of Pesticide Regulation to end the use of super-toxic rat poisons in the state.

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This week we mark the International Week of No Pesticide Use, which honors victims of pesticide poisonings across the world. A week which I wish did not need to exist.

Unfortunately, the problem is very real. According to the World Health Organization, 25 million farmworkers experience episodes of pesticide poisoning in the Global South every year. A new report by PAN Germany highlights this and other sobering facts, illustrating how pesticides continue to harm millions across the globe — and making a compelling case that it's time for real change.