GroundTruth Blog

Medha Chandra's blog

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On Monday, researchers from UC Davis released new data linking prenatal pesticide exposure to increased risk of autism. This latest study adds to an increasingly powerful case for reducing use of these harmful chemicals that are undermining the potential of the next generation.

Researchers found that mothers who live within a mile of fields where toxic pesticides are applied have a 60% higher chance of having kids with autism. The link is strongest for the insecticide chlorpyrifos — and as a mom, this has me worried. More than a million pounds of this chemical are used every year in California, and while both state officials and EPA are taking another look at chlorpyrifos harms, the process is painfully slow. That's why we're now asking Congress to step up and help protect our kids.

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I have some good news to share! After a prolonged tussle, Reckitt Benckiser — the company that manufactures d-CON rodent control products — agreed to pull these rodenticides off the market.

The company and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to an agreement: d-CON products will stop being produced by the end of 2014 and distribution of any remaining product will stop by March 2015. This is a victory for PAN and our allies campaigning to stop the use of these products, which have been responsible for poisoning up to 10,000 children a year in the U.S.

As I blogged earlier, EPA and the California Department of Pesticide Control had previously banned these specific rodent control products — called second generation anticoagulant rodenticides — on the grounds that they were hazardous to children, wildlife and pets. Manufacturers of d-CON then challenged these actions by filing legal petitions against the agencies, thus keeping their products on the market while the legal process took its time. But no more.

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A while ago I blogged about a new EPA rule banning a specific set of super-toxic rat poisons for retail sale to homeowners. The ban was put in place to protect children and pets from the dangers of these rodenticide products. The company that makes them, Reckitt Benckiser, challenged the rule in court.

Well, history repeats itself. When California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently restricted the retail sale of these same super-toxic rat poisons, Reckitt Benckiser, sued DPR as well. This means that while the legal petition winds its slow way through the judicial system, the toxic rodenticides will continue being sold in California.

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Last Thursday, my daughter and I had the opportunity to join a group of Californians urging state officials in Sacramento to take action on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos. In an event organized by Californians for Pesticide Reform, we made our case to the cameras on the north steps of the capitol, then submitted a petition signed by over 12,000 people to the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

Members of the group El Quinto Sol de América from Tulare County were among those who traveled to Sacramento to help shake the agency into action. For these residents of the small Central Valley agricultural town of Lindsay, the problem of chlorpyrifos is personal.

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The French parliament passed a new law earlier this month prohibiting the private or public use of pesticides in green areas, forests or public space, and severely restricting the number of pesticides that can be used in homes and gardens. This is huge!

After 2020 it will be illegal in France to use pesticides in parks and other public areas unless there is an emergency situation for controlling the spread of pests. And they appear to be serious about enforcement — anyone found using or in possession of banned pesticides could be imprisoned for up to six months with a fine of 30,000 Euros.