Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Red berries create green opportunities

Red. Ripe. Delicious. That’s how you might describe the baskets of strawberries you see at your local farmer’s market or neighborhood store. What you don’t see are the green opportunities behind the berry – both environmental and economic – long before the fruit lands on your shortcake. And farmers say this deserves some attention.

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Pesticides found guilty of 'chemical trespass,' again

Whether they are sprayed from planes or injected into the soil, pesticides don’t recognize fences or property lines. But pesticide users are, again, being forced to pay property owners for damage caused by airborne drift when they cross those lines.

According to a decision handed down July 26 by a Minnesota court, organic farmers who are victims of this “trespass” are entitled to compensation for pesticide contamination.

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Farmer's markets = Economic growth

In a new report released just in time for National Farmers Market Week, economists at the Union of Concerned Scientists serve up some encouraging news: a relatively small investment in direct-to-consumer sales (such as farmers markets and CSAs) could yield a multitude of benefits, including tens of thousands more jobs, improved nutrition, and a boost to local economies – not to mention a fresher, more flavorful dinner.

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Monsanto empire hungry for sweet corn

Monsanto has announced it will start selling a new genetically engineered sweet corn directly to U.S. farmers this fall, the Los Angeles Times reports. In doing so, the biotech heavyweight will be directly challenging Syngenta, which has until now been the sole producer of the genetically engineered (GE) sweet corn sold at your grocery store since the late 1990s.

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Syngenta, keep your paws off the atrazine science

As the federal scientific review of the safety of atrazine wraps up, PAN continues to push for common-sense process: keep it transparent, and don't let industry influence undermine the fair use of science in government decisions. Are we worried? Unfortunately, yes. A recent look at the docket reveals a controversial, Syngenta-funded study.

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CA brings the heat on methyl iodide

The carcinogenic strawberry pesticide, methyl iodide, continues to make news. A farm in the California Central Valley recently became the fourth in the state to apply the fumigant, prompting tens of thousands of Californians to rattle Governor Jerry Brown’s cage, again. This time, they’re joined by 38 California legislators, who wrote a letter to Brown urging him “to take immediate action to prohibit the use of methyl iodide in California.” 

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Hopeful happenings in CA agriculture

Yesterday in Sacramento, CA, a new convening of sustainable ag forces held its first public meeting on the state of organic and sustainable agriculture in California. PAN traveled there to speak before the Select Committee on Sustainable and Organic Agriculture.

PAN's program coordinator Devika Ghai made the daylong journey to deliver a message:

"We urge you to be bold, practical and responsive to the realities of the timeline against which we are now working. 

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Another global treaty targets endosulfan

Last Saturday in Geneva, endosulfan was officially listed under the global Rotterdam Convention "to huge applause from conference delegates and observers," according to scientist Meriel Watts of PAN Asia-Pacific, who attended the meeting.

The decision marks a victorious end to PAN's multi-year, international effort to add the insecticide on the Convention's "prior informed consent" list, which requires that countries importing a chemical be informed if that chemical has been banned in other countries. Earlier this year, endosulfan was added to the Stockholm Convention list of persistent chemicals to be phased out globally. This additional listing in the Rotterdam Convention is likely to speed the demise of endosulfan's production and trade worldwide.

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Pesticide PR flacks go on a road show - in bug suits!

The pesticide industry’s latest “we're on your side” PR campaign is in high gear this summer — on the web, in ads, lobbying. Their cross-country road show features people dressed as rats, West Nile-spreading mosquitoes, Lyme disease-carrying ticks and community-destroying weeds that, were it not for pesticides, threaten to overrun our homes, schools and Little League fields.

“I’ve heard that we don’t need to use pesticides, is that true?” False, says the “Facts” page on the Debug the Myths website. Herbicides, for example, are essential to fight allergies and asthma, cracks in roads and sidewalks, and prevent overgrown bus stops. And they're serious. These alarms are delivered by RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), they’re attracting attention and they’re blocking legislation.

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The genie is sneaking out of the bottle

Summer’s here, and it’s been 6 months since cancer-causing methyl iodide was approved for use in California agriculture. It’s only been in the past few weeks, however, that we’ve actually seen this incredibly dangerous chemical used in the fields of California. 

Late last month, a farm in Sanger became the first in California to use the fumigant pesticide. Neighboring communities responded with a rally and demonstration outside the Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner’s office, demanding public health protections based on sound science, not corporate influence. "Today's message to all California regulators is clear: Do your job, protect public health and support farmers' transition away from toxic pesticides" said Sarah Sharpe, environmental health director of Fresno Metro Ministry.

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