Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Medha Chandra's blog

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This brain-harming pesticide has got to go

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.

Medha Chandra
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Say "no thanks" to rodenticides

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.

Medha Chandra
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Safer ’taters for tots

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.

Medha Chandra
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Global WIN! Agroecology to replace endosulfan.

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.

Medha Chandra
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Company defends profitable poisons

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.

Medha Chandra
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Finally! EPA bans nasty rodenticides

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.

Medha Chandra
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New links between pesticides & Parkinson's

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.

Medha Chandra
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Reining in rogue rodenticides

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.

Medha Chandra
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Pesticide harms are global — & often invisible

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.

Medha Chandra
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School lunches: A tool for better health?

Do school lunches bring back memories of massive ladels of gravy piled onto heaps of mashed potatoes, processed chicken nuggets and canned fruit?

Well, luckily this picture’s starting to change. President Obama has declared this week National School Lunch Week to shine a light on the school lunch program that began under president Harry Truman — and how it's being moved in a healthier direction. As the mom of a daughter who recently started kindergarten, I'd say it's high time.

Medha Chandra

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