Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Bad news for baby bees

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Neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) continue to gain notoriety as a driving factor in declining bee populations. But a mounting body of evidence also shows that neonics aren’t the only class of pesticides harming these critical pollinators.

A report released this week — by researchers from Penn State and the University of Florida — helps build a case that several pesticides commonly found in hives kill bee larvae.

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Final Farm Bill: A mixed bag

At long last we have a Farm Bill. And while it includes much-needed programs that will strengthen local food systems and support smart, healthy farming practices, this legislation is far from perfect.

Eleventh-hour changes — behind closed doors — stripped the bill of some important reforms that had already been agreed upon by both the House and Senate. Now, after a two-and-a-half year process that left too many farmers without a safety net along the way, the House is expected to pass a Farm Bill by noon Wednesday, then send it along to the Senate for approval.

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Farm Bill in sight?

The new year started with promises of long overdue Congressional action on the Farm Bill. Some sticking points are still being negotiated, but it now looks likely that the House and Senate versions of the bill will be reconciled in the coming weeks.

The process for passing a full, five-year Farm Bill — the law that sets our national priorities for food and farming — has been dragging on for quite some time. If the House and Senate conferees can reach agreement in the next week or two, action will quickly shift to the floor of Congress for an "up or down" vote on a final bill. In these last stages of negotiation, we continue to push hard for a law that supports healthy food and farm economies.

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No small potatoes

Minnesotans who live in potato country have been worried about pesticide drift for a long time. And the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is finally taking some steps to address the problem.

The agency is taking a closer look at the voluntary Best Management Practices they promote to potato farmers to minimize fungicide drift. And answering the call for public input, nearly 1,000 Minnesotans submitted comments last week, voicing their concerns about fungicides and the risks they post for human health, the toll they take on ecosystems, and their costs to the livelihood of small farmers.

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Time for fumigants to go

Last year, thanks to incredible public outcry, cancer-causing methyl iodide was taken off the market. But other fumigant pesticides are still in wide use on strawberry fields and beyond, and they are among the most toxic and difficult-to-control agricultural chemicals.

Recognizing their hazardous nature, EPA is currently reviewing the federal rules for drift-prone fumigants — years earlier than the normal review cycle.

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New FDA rules undercut sustainable ag

New food safety rules now being considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are causing concern among farmers and consumers across the country.

As currently written, the rules would unfairly burden family farmers, undermine sustainable and organic farming — and reduce the overall availability of fresh, local food. FDA is currently at the "rulemaking stage," turning the food safety bill passed by Congress in 2009 into actual regulations. They are accepting public comments on the draft rules until November 22.

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The scary fight for GE labeling

This Halloween, voters in Washington state are finding their airwaves and mailboxes filled with more tricks than treats.

In the final days before next Tuesday's vote, pesticide corporations and Big Food companies are spreading scary misinformation in their bid to block GE labeling in the state. As California’s Proposition 37 did last year, Washington’s I-522 threatens to expose the GE industry’s dirty little secret: that GE crops drive up pesticide use. So as next week's vote approaches, it’s no surprise that industry is hiding behind a mask.

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Honoring real solutions for World Food Day

In Iowa today, the World Food Prize was presented to top executives from Monsanto and Syngenta for their work in developing genetically engineered (GE) crops.

PAN and our partners were there, delivering nearly 350,000 signatures to the prize organizers protesting the absurdity of this year's award, and highlighting the failed promises of GE technologies. Recipients of the alternative "Food Sovereignty Prize" were also in Iowa today, raising awareness about real, ecological solutions for how we can truly feed the world.

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Victory for Kaua'i communities!

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, after a 19 hour hearing, the Kaua'i County Council passed landmark legislation requiring that pesticide use on the island be publicly disclosed.

The local victory came despite powerful pressure from some of the world’s largest pesticide corporations, many of which use land on Kaua'i to develop and field test their genetically engineered (GE) seeds and pesticide products.

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The economics of atrazine don't add up

The health harms of atrazine are no secret. A widely used herbicide — particularly on corn — it is a known endocrine disruptor that can cause birth defects and reproductive harm at very low levels. It's also a suspected carcinogen. Still, atrazine’s defenders, especially its manufacturer, Syngenta, return time and again to economics to rationalize the chemical's continued use.

Industry-funded studies claim that without atrazine, our agricultural economy would suffer devastating consequences. But a report released yesterday — Atrazine: Consider the Alternative — tells a different story. Taking a close look at the economics of atrazine, report authors conclude that Syngenta’s defense of the herbicide is full of holes.

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