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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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NY gets safer schoolgrounds

There's good news for school children in New York. The Child Safe Playing Fields Act, which took effect May 17, prohibits use of pesticides on playgrounds, athletic fields and all grassy areas in K-12 schools across the state.

This law represents major progress toward preventing children’s exposure to pesticides and the resulting health harms. Science clearly shows that during critical developmental windows, exposure to pesticides can cause long-term and irreversible damage for children’s health and cognitive development.

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Farmers making a difference

Organic farmers Larry Jacobs and Sandra Belin have made a life-long commitment to sustainability and social justice. And as reported in PAN's spring newsletter, they recently won confirmation of their right to farm free of pesticides in a $1 million court case.

Larry and Sandra started farming in San Mateo County, California, in 1980, producing fresh organic culinary herbs. Then in 1985 they began working with the Del Cabo community in Baja California, Mexico, to develop a source of organic fruit and vegetables during the off-season. Today, Del Cabo Cooperative is a thriving community of 400 farmers that sells organic produce across the U.S. 

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Sole DDT producer to close 1 of 3 plants

India's Hindustan Insecticide Limited (HIL) is the world's only company still producing DDT. This week, one of HIL's three factories was ordered closed by the Indian state of Kerala for that plant's failure to safely handle waste from the manufacture of endosulfan.

After issuing several warning letters like this one, Kerala's State Pollution Control Board finally issued a closure notice to the HIL plant based in the city of Eloor. 

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Monsanto’s man quits key USDA post

Looks like the Obama Administration has a second chance to get it right on food and agricultural research. Last week, the director of the relatively new National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Roger Beachy, announced his resignation. Previously, Beachy had served as president of Monsanto’s de facto nonprofit research arm, the Danforth Plant Science Center.

The abrupt resignation leaves open an influential public research post — one that could this time be filled by a scientist without deep ties to corporate agribusiness, but who might instead prioritize sustainable, agroecological and organic food and farming systems.

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Students demand cancer-free strawberries

Strawberries were on the agenda at the recent Social Justice Summit hosted by Cal State Fullerton. In a lively workshop entitled Strawberry Fields Forever: Pesticides and Environmental Injustice in California, students developed strategies to roll back the controversial fumigant pesticide methyl iodide.

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Pesticides & "testicular dysgenesis" (male reproductive harm)

New tests conducted by British scientists show that widely used agricultural pesticides disrupt male hormones, and may be contributing to a suite of reproductive disorders increasingly common among men.

Reduced sperm count, infertility and abnormal genitals are among the problems some scientists have dubbed “testicular dysgenesis syndrome.” This latest study greatly strengthens the evidence that these problems may be linked to environmental contaminants.

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Brazil: more GE crops, more pesticides

Since 2008, Brazil has held the dubious distinction of spending more on pesticides than anyplace else on earth. But what has the country's farmers, public health professionals and environmental advocates even more worried is Brazil's corresponding rise in planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, engineered to tolerate mega-doses of herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup). And these crops are driving emergence of herbicide-tolerant "superweeds".

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Three new, separate studies confirm: Common pesticides harm kids' cognition

Editor's note: This week, Environmental Health Perspectives selected this trio of studies for its 2012 "Paper of the year" award. EHP notes that the importance of the research to understanding the "alterations of cognitive function following developmental exposure to environmental chemicals." Congratulations to the study authors from all of us at PAN. We are reposting our original coverage of these studies below.

School-age children have lower IQs when their mother's are exposed to pesticides during pregnancy. This is the conclusion of 3 independent studies released today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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