Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Pesticide Action Network's blog

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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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A call for dignity & respect

This Saturday, immigrants and their allies will be heading into the streets in cities across the country to "march for immigrant dignity and respect." And with a new bill in the House of Representatives, policymakers in the Capitol are a step closer to comprehensive immigration reform.

For many farmworkers, immigration reform is long-awaited and critically important. This weekend and beyond, farmworkers are "bringing the fight for immigration reform from Capitol Hill to the richest agricultural fields in the world."

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The Big 6 bring big money to labeling fight

Here we go again. With November's election on the horizon, the world's largest pesticide and biotech corporations are investing heavily to defeat Washington state's GE labeling ballot initiative. Topping the list of opponents, Monsanto gave $4.6 million to the "No on 522" campaign earlier this month. And last week, DuPont gave $3.2 million.

Bayer and Dow — also among the "Big 6" pesticide corporations — have contributed significant funds to defeat the initiative, too. And as we know from last year's labeling battle in California, the corporate cash is likely to keep pouring in.

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Syngenta takes aim at EU's neonic ban

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Last week, Syngenta filed a legal challenge against the European Union's decision to suspend use of its pesticide, thiamethoxam. At the heart of the challenge? Syngenta says their product is wrongly accused of contributing to bee declines.

But the independent science detailing harm to bees from this and other pesticides is clear. And earlier this year, after reviewing the evidence for themselves, European policymakers determined that three widely used neonicotinoids — including thiamethoxam — pose a "high acute risk" to honey bees. Still, the pesticide corporation is protesting. Vehemently.

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EPA bee-protective labels don't cut it

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Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new labels intended to better protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides. While seemingly a move in the right direction — and explicit acknowledgement from the agency that neonics indeed pose a threat to bee populations — these labels fail to establish truly meaningful protections.

There is no clear path for enforcing EPA's new labels. And even if followed to the letter, the labels fail to address a primary route of exposure through pre-treated seeds. Neonics are systemic, permeating the plant (including pollen and nectar), and are commonly applied as seed coatings to widely planted crops like corn. In short, EPA's labels appear to be an empty gesture.

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Let's hear it for the bees

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Beekeepers and bee enthusiasts across the country are celebrating our favorite pollinators this weekend. National Honey Bee Awareness Day is an opportunity to take stock of all the ways bees contribute to our daily lives — pollinating a third of our food, for starters.

It's also an opportunity to take a hard look at the trouble facing bees. Bee populations are in drastic decline, with beekeepers reporting historic losses this past season of 40-70%. And pesticides are a key part of the problem.

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EPA, stop downplaying the atrazine/cancer link

It’s been more than two years since EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel reprimanded the agency for lowballing the cancer risks of atrazine — including risks of childhood cancer. Now EPA is finally taking another look at this widely used herbicide.

Atrazine is found in most of our drinking water — about 94%, according to government sampling. And this month, EPA officials start taking another look at the health and environmental harms of Syngenta’s flagship herbicide. With exposure so widespread, it’s hugely important that they get it right.

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A bill to protect bees!

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Late Tuesday afternoon, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a long-awaited bill to place a moratorium on bee-harming pesticides. The "Save America's Pollinators Act" would require EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides off the market until fully reviewed by independent scientists and proven safe for pollinators.

EPA's current review of these pesticides is due to conclude in 2018, with an action plan to be implemented sometime thereafter. Meanwhile, bees continue to die off in droves — and scientific evidence highlighting neonics as a key factor continues to mount. Bees need help now, and the Conyers-Blumenauer bill provides them an immediate reprieve from neonic exposures.

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