Several deaths and decades after it should have, Bayer CropScience announced last week that it will stop making pesticides using methyl isocyante (MIC) in the U.S. MIC is the gas that exploded in 1984 in Bhopal, India, killing more than three thousand within weeks and leaving hundreds of thousands injured survivors struggling for justice even today.
Conservation and food safety groups won an important victory this week as a Delaware federal court ruled against the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops in all Northeastern wildlife refuges.
Responding to a lawsuit spearheaded by the Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the Delaware judge found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service had illegally allowed GE crops to be planted on refuge land without the environmental review required under federal law.
Last month farmers in India demonstrated their frustration and anger at the failed model of industrial agriculture that benefits corporations, not farmers. Over a period of 71 days, farmers across the country participated in a Farmer Freedom March, or Kisan Swaraj Yatra, that traversed 20 Indian states and involved thousands of people.
The media paid serious attention to pesticides last year. Three of PAN’s leading issues — atrazine in the Midwest, methyl iodide in California, and endosulfan everywhere — were among the “Top 10 Environmental Health Stories for 2010.” Editors of Environmental Health News selected the top stories from 68,000 newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV broadcasts and online media coverage.
Avoiding soil erosion is essential to maintain crop productivity, protect waterways and avoid or slow desertification. In the U.S. and around the world government-sponsored programs have made great progress in mitigating topsoil loss: U.S. soil conservation practices reduced topsoil loss from 3.1 billion tons to 1.9 billion tons between 1982 and 1997, for instance. But the majority of this mitigation has come at a cost. To avoid soil distrubance and the erosion that goes with it, conventional U.S. farmers have relied on herbicide-intensive no-till, polluting waterways and destroying soil microbial life in the process.
Monsanto is making news again, and this time the chemical and seed giant has a partner in crime: our own USDA. And PAN partner, Center for Food Safety, chalked up a win when GM sugar beets were ordered torn out of the ground.
On December 8, Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides joined beekeepers from around the country in calling on EPA to pull a neonicotinoid pesticide linked with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) off the market immediately. Our call is based on a leaked EPA memo that discloses a critically flawed scientific study, thus suggesting there may be imminent hazards to honeybees posed by continued use of clothianidin, the pesticide in question.
CCD is the name given to the mysterious decline of honeybee populations across the world beginning around 2006. Each winter since, one-third of the U.S. honeybee population has died off or disappeared. CCD is likely caused by a combination of pathogens, the stresses of industrial beekeeping, loss of habitat and more. But many scientists believe that sublethal pesticide exposures are a critical co-factor potentiating this mix. In the U.S., agencies are focused on research, trying to quantify these risks. In Germany, Italy and France, they decided they knew enough to take action years ago, banning suspect neonicotinoid pesticides. Bee colonies there are recovering and beekeepers here are outraged.
Cancun, Mexico: this week Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) launched two new resources during the global climate change negotiations — a handbook entitled Climate Change and Crop Protection (Anything Can Happen) and a monograph on solutions, Weathering the Climate Crisis (The Way of Ecological Agriculture). The publications were announced during the December 6 side event, “Just Transition Now! Towards a Peoples Protocol on Climate Change,” sponsored by the Peoples Movement on Climate Change.
On Dec. 6, three days after the anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal pesticide plant explosion, India’s Attorney General asked the country’s supreme court to force Dow Chemical to pay $1.1 billion in compensation to victims, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move follows on persistent advocacy and recent trials in India and around the world to hold Dow accountable for the liabilities of Union Carbide, acquired by Dow in 2001. The tragedy is now estimated to have caused 20,000 deaths and some 500,000 injuries.
The winter Patagonia clothing catalog in North American mailboxes this week features more than nifty outdoor adventure duds. For 15 years, all of the cotton products for sale have been made from 100% organic fiber. And Pesticide Action Network is among a handful non-profit organizations profiled. Patagonia is a long-term supporter of PAN’s campaign for sustainable agriculture and against the use of toxic pesticides like endosulfan that are used in cotton production around the world (including in the U.S. until the phaseout won this year is completed). Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other crop.