Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Pesticide Action Network's blog

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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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Pesticides to be stripped from Clean Water Act - Call your Senator!

Last week we alerted readers to behind-the-scenes lobbying in Congress that would strip pesticide protections from our nation's stongest environmental laws. On Tuesday, June 21st, the Senate Agriculture Committee quietly approved legislation to exempt pesticide applications from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act — with no notice, and no press.

The bill, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872) would reverse a 2009 court order requiring the permits as a part of the National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES). Instead, pesticides would remain subject only to the much weaker statute under which most pesticides are regulated, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). H.R. 872 has already passed in the House of Representatives.

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To be or not to be GE-free

Genetically engineered (GE) foods and seeds remain a tough sell in parts of Europe, Asia and Latin America. Restrictions emerging across the globe stem from a range of concerns, from protecting biodiversity and public health to fostering economic independence and food sovereignty.

In April, Hungary became the first country to ensure its people’s “material and mental health” by guaranteeing “an agriculture free of genetically modified organisms” in its new Fundamental Law. All told, 7 European countries have rejected one or more GE crops.

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Countering Dow's greenwashing: Join us!

This week Dow Chemical launched yet another greenwashing PR campaign. On the same day, author Anna Lappé — who's critical contribution to Dow's "virtual conference" on the future of water had been rejected — launched a people's online discussion of how to create a sustainable future, inviting PAN to participate.

Our Co-Director Kathryn Gilje was delighted to contribute to Lappé's forum, with a 60-second video describing the future PAN works toward daily. Other contributors include the National Young Farmers Coalition, Corporate Accountability International, and Food and Water Watch. 

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New science: More evidence on the Parkinson's link

A combination of commonly used pesticides can triple the risk of Parkinson's disease (PD), according to a new study released last week in the European Journal of Epidemiology. People who work and/or live near fields sprayed with paraquat, maneb and ziram are more likely to suffer from the degenerative central nervous system disorder, for which there is no cure.

Researchers note that their findings provide the first strong evidence in humans that exposure to several pesticides increases risk of PD more than exposure to individual chemicals alone.

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POPs put babies & polar bears at risk

A collection of recent studies shows that exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) — including many longlasting pesticides — can slow growth rates of human embryos and shrink the genitals and weaken bones of polar bears.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, is asking health professionals around the world to do more to protect children from the health effects of POPs.

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