GroundTruth Blog

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Health professionals from across Kaua’i are drawing attention to the growing use of hazardous pesticides on the Garden Island. Nurses, pediatricians and other health care practitioners testified before the Kaua’i County Council yesterday, urging leaders to adopt legislation that would better protect the island’s residents, especially children. But global pesticide corporations won’t swallow that pill so easily.

The small island has drawn increasing attention, as it has become an epicenter of operations for global pesticide corporations testing genetically engineered (GE) seeds. As I’ve noted before, the county bill would take steps to provide physicians and families with better information about the pesticides used, including a pesticide use registry.

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As many of us geared up for Fourth of July festivities, the nation’s largest beekeeper organizations filed a legal action against EPA for its approval of a new bee-harming pesticide.

EPA is unable (or unwilling) to act decisively to protect bees, instead fast-tracking a new pesticide to market. Beekeepers aren’t taking the issues lightly, and have turned to asserting legal pressure on the agency.

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Yesterday, a new bill was introduced in Kaua'i to provide greater transparency and protections from hazardous pesticides being sprayed on the island's ubiquitous GE test fields. Concerned community members were present en masse at the Kaua'i County Council hearing, including a broad coalition of mothers, farmers and teachers who back the bill.

Global pesticidemakers also took yesterday’s hearing seriously, busing employees to testify against the bill. These corporations rely on Hawaii's agricultural land to test their new genetically engineered crops — and the pesticide products designed to be used with GE crops. As a result, local residents are routinely exposed to an array of hazardous pesticides, and the corporations won't disclose which chemicals they're using. People on Kaua'i are saying, "Enough!"

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Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.

This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.

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The hearing room in Salinas was brimming with people concerned about fumigant pesticides on Monday night. Dozens of concerned residents, farmworkers and farmers showed up to press state officials to protect this Central Coast community from the volatile fumigant chloropicrin — and to make good on the promise of safer strawberry fields.

Salinas is in the heart of strawberry country, so the issue hits especially close to home. Californians are speaking out at such hearings across the state throughout the month of June, submitting written testimony and sharing stories of how they've been affected by fumigant pesticides.