Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Pesticide Action Network's blog

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Poisoned fruit

Last month, 14 children between the ages of two and six lost their lives to pesticide poisoning in Bangladesh after eating contaminated litchi (or lychee) fruit.

As reported by the Bangladesh daily New Age, the specific pesticides responsible have not yet been identified. But samples of the poisonous fruit are currently being tested by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta.

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Buffer zones: Just common sense

Living in a lush, forested area sounds pristine and serene, right? Yes, but you may have to grapple with pesticide drift from periodic aerial spraying of herbicides like 2,4-D and atrazine.

Residents of Lane County, Oregon are fed up. They recently organized a rally protesting this long-standing practice, and calling for buffer zones to protect their communities.

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Poverty & pollution

A recent, powerful series of articles in Environmental Health News marked the 30th anniversary of what many consider the birth of the environmental justice movement. EHN reporters visited low-income communities of color across the country, and found "a legacy of lingering problems and newly emerging threats."

Pollution, Poverty, People of Color” tells the compelling stories of seven communities that are battling the “triple whammy” of race, poverty and environmental contamination. PAN sees this struggle all too often, as we work with community partners to monitor pesticides in their air and water. All of the EHN stories are worth reading; we share brief summaries of just two of them below.

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How Brazil stopped Monsanto's bullying

Brazil, the world’s second largest user of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, just took Monsanto down a notch. The court focused on Monsanto’s harassment and exploitation of farmers — potentially causing huge financial losses to the company, and keeping their army of lawyers busy for a while. Meanwhile, we celebrate a rare commonsense legal decision.

Monsanto's RoundUp Ready soy seeds comprise 85% of all soy grown in Brazil, and the corporation has been making a tidy profit charging farmers a levy of 2% on top of the cost of seed. In April, a Brazilian court ruled this levy illegal.

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Rep. Markey to FDA: Why are lindane shampoos still allowed?

Lice shampoos containing lindane continue to be allowed in the U.S., despite being slated for a global ban due to the organochlorine pesticide's persistence and toxicity. Last week, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) urged the Obama Administration to pull these products from the U.S. market once and for all.

In 2009, more than 160 nations agreed to ban the agricultural uses of lindane, and to phase out pharmaceutical uses around the world by 2014. Lindane shampoos and lotions have been banned in California since 2002, and several other states have moved to severely restrict the use of these products.

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Epigenetics: Gambling with our future

The "obesity epidemic" is constantly in the news. This year's CDC figures show that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. Childhood cancers and neurodevelopmental delays are on the rise.

Scientific studies show that many of these health conditions can be linked to exposures to environmental contaminants such as pesticides, and new research is finding that exposures occurring as far back as three generations can cause adverse health conditions today.

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Midwest communities find atrazine in their water

Today, PAN released water sampling results from communities across four Midwestern states — Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota — that indicate atrazine is present in drinking water at levels well above those linked to birth defects and low birth weight.

Exposure to this common herbicide and potent endocrine disruptor can also increase risk of several types of cancer, including ovarian and thyroid.

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PAN China takes down paraquat

Last week, the Chinese government officially announced that the country will phase out use of Syngenta's paraquat, an herbicide linked to Parkinson's, cancer and reduced fertility.

The official announcement stated that the ban had been imposed "in order to protect the health and safety of the people" and gave a phaseout timeline of four years.

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Attention Monsanto: Californians to vote on GE labeling

On Tuesday, 971,126 signatures were delivered to county registrars throughout California in support of a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

Ninety-three percent of Americans say they want to know when they are eating GE food. With up to 80% of the non-organic products on our shelves containing GE ingredients, and little-to-no studies on their long term health effects, people across the country are concerned. And people in California are demanding the right to know.

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