GroundTruth Blog

Pesticide Action Network's blog

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.