GroundTruth Blog

Pesticide Action Network's blog

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What won’t Syngenta do to keep selling atrazine? As science pointing to the harms of the herbicide continues to roll in, Syngenta has resorted to "creative measures" to keep their lucrative product on the U.S. market. We call it corporate bullying.

It's been clear for years that Syngenta is investing heavily in PR efforts and intimidation tactics to support their flagship herbicide — including collecting a dossier on PAN. Now an in-depth report in Environmental Health News, released last week, reveals new details on the extent of Syngenta’s multi-million dollar campaign. Recently released memos and other internal papers document a sweeping, ruthless strategy to launch personal investigations of atrazine’s critics and pay “independent experts” to back the herbicide.

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In an unusually bipartisan effort, the Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill Monday with a vote of 66-27. The national farm policy — which comes up every five years for debate — will now be taken up in the House. Republican leadership there said today that it will move forward quickly toward a vote. 

The Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act, a complex 1,150-page bill, largely replaces direct payments to farmers with an expanded crop insurance program that requires conservation compliance. The bill sports two dozen amendments, including several conservation measures that PAN and our partners have pressed hard for. But overall, the news is mixed.

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The Senate is in recess this week, but they'll be resuming Farm Bill debate on Monday. The bill will be pared down in the coming days, and PAN and partners are working hard to ensure that key policies that support healthy food, farming and communities are included in the final law.

Among the many amendments up for consideration, three rise to the top of our priority list. These provisions take steps to protect honey bees and support farmers who put smart practices in place to protect our shared air, soil and water. This is our once-every-five-years opportunity to get food and farming policy back on track.

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Regulators across the pond are keeping up the momentum to protect pollinators, with a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adding fipronil to the list of bee-harming pesticides the agency is concerned about.

Earlier this year, EFSA raised the alarm about three other insecticides that pose a threat to bees. And the EU responded with a two-year ban on the use of those chemicals. We have yet to see if fipronil will be added to the list of restricted pesticides, but EFSA's conclusion signals that protections for bees are more likely.

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This week the Wall Street Journal took note of a trend farmers have understood for years: Monsanto's Bt corn, genetically modified to protect the plants from rootworm, is no longer working. And as a result, many farmers are now rapidly ramping up use of insecticides to protect their crops.

This is not unexpected. When Bt corn was introduced back in 1995, PAN joined organic growers in raising the alarm about the long term impacts of the technology. Widespread and continuous use of Bt meant the development of resistance was inevitable, and organic farmers knew this meant one of their most effective pest control tools would be rendered useless.