Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Banner week in bee science: Zombie flies & poisonous 'planter exhaust'

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The online journal PLoS One released two bee studies last week: one on an old parasite newly found in honey bees, the other confirming that bees are being poisoned by the controversial pesticide clothianidin in and around the 88 million acres of U.S. countryside planted with treated corn seeds. 

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The struggle against methyl iodide: A year in review

Opposition to cancer-causing methyl iodide is at a fever pitch in California, a year after the Schwarzenegger Administration approved the chemical for use in the state.

As Gov. Jerry Brown considers action on methyl iodide in 2012, as well as the appointment of a new chief pesticide regulator, it’s worth reflecting on PAN's efforts to ensure safe strawberries over the past year.

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Pesticides are not heart healthy

Researchers in Sweden have confirmed that exposure to pesticides classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) increases the incidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Known to be a “major risk factor” for heart attacks and strokes, atherosclerosis is one of many health threats posed by POPs pesticides, which can persist in the environment for years or decades after use. In fact, this study comes on the heels of several others in recent years that show a correlation between POPs and health harms associated with poor heart health, such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

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Dow logo sacked; is sponsorship of Olympic games next?

"There will definitely not be any Dow Chemical branding on the [stadium] wrap before, during or after the Olympic Games," announced a spokeswomen for the London 2012 organizing committee.

The October 18 development marks progress in a global campaign to shame Dow into admitting accountability to victims of the Union Carbide pesticide plant explosion in Bhopal in 1984. Dow merged with UC in 1999, yet has denied liability for the ongoing suffering of tens of thousands.

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Almond joy! - Victory for bees

With little fanfare, pesticide manufacturer Bayer has asked California regulators to limit the use of one of their most profitable products, imidacloprid.

Rather than undergo the public scrutiny and cost involved in a state-mandated re-evaluation of the pesticide's impact on bees, emerging reports say the company has requested imidacloprid be restricted from use on almond crops, which honey bees are trucked in from around the country to pollinate each February.

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Genetically engineered Thanksgiving? No thanks.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate all that sustains us and brings us together, wouldn't it be nice to know whether the ingredients we're chopping, mixing and roasting have been genetically engineered?

Up to 80% of non-organic food on our shelves contains a GE ingredient. We don't know which of our foods are engineered though, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require labeling. Pushed onto the market by big agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, GE products are hidden in plain sight.

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Speaking truth about tomatoes

The out-of-season tomato. It's beautiful to behold, tastes of cardboard and holds questionable nutritional value. And according to food writer Barry Estabrook, it embodies much of what's wrong with industrial agriculture. 

PAN sat down with Estabrook and spoke to him about how he got interested in the unsavory story of winter tomatoes from Florida, and what he learned. Estabrook's initial research on tomatoes for Gourmet Magazine evolved into the powerfully compelling story he tells in his recent book: Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.

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Panel finds EPA lowballing atrazine/cancer link

Atrazine is in the news yet again, as a panel of independent scientists call into question EPA's conclusion that the widely used herbicide is "not likely to be a human carcinogen."

For several specific cancers — including ovarian, thyroid and non-Hodgkins lymphoma — there is clear "suggestive evidence" linking atrazine exposure to increased cancer risk, according to a recently released report. Citing these and other new findings, thousands of concerned citizens across the country are calling on EPA to follow the science, and discount misleading science sponsored by atrazine's maker, the Syngenta corporation.

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Simmering in strawberry country

Despite the cooler weather, things are simmering in California’s strawberry country this week. Santa Cruz County passed a unanimous resolution against methyl iodide on Tuesday, and other local governments are also stepping up in the effort to ban the cancer-causing pesticide.

But pesticide manufacturers and fumigant applicators aren’t taking the news sitting down; they’re doing everything in their power to hold back the tide of safe strawberry farming.

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Dangerous rat poison still on shelves

Back in 2008, EPA declared that certain pesticide products designed to kill rats pose an “unreasonable risk” to children, pets and wildlife. Agency officials recommended these products be pulled from the market immediately. So they should have disappeared from store shelves long ago, right?

Wrong. Sadly, the national law governing pesticides (including rat poisons) is so old, weak and cumbersome that EPA chose to politely ask companies manufacturing these products to recall them, rather than set in motion an official ban. Some companies complied, but others did not. And today, children across the country are still at risk.

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