Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Pesticide Action Network's blog

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First bees, now birds

Prairie bird populations are falling in many Midwestern states, from ring-necked pheasants to horned larks to sparrows. Scientists now say insecticides are a primary culprit.

Minnesota birds are hardest hit with 12 species in decline, followed by Wisconsin with 11, and Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and New York with nine affected species each.

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Hormone disrupting chemicals a 'global threat'

A new technical report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Environment Program (UNEP) made a remarkable splash earlier this month, raising worries that hormone-disrupting chemicals currently on the market pose a "global threat" to human and ecosystem health.

In the paper, State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), scientists flagged serious concern about the level of endocrine-related diseases and disorders on the rise, including: low semen quality and non-descended testes in young males; breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers; early onset of breast development in women; and developmental effects on the nervous system in children.

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Soap pesticide found in MN lakes

Minnesota lakes contains triclosan, say researchers. An anti-bacterial pesticide found in soap, toothpaste and many other products, triclosan is currently being (slowly) evaluated by both EPA and FDA. Meanwhile, many companies have already pulled it from their list of ingredients in response to concerns about the chemical's health and environmental harms.

University of Minnesota scientists analyzed sediment from eight lakes to understand trends in contaminant levels over time. They found that levels of triclosan and its byproducts have gone up steadily since the chemical entered the market in the 1970s.

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Supreme Court battle: Farmer v. Monsanto

Today, 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer Hugh Vernon Bowman will face off with Monsanto in front of the Supreme Court. Five years ago, Monsanto sued Bowman for seed patent infringement and won. Now the high court will hear the farmer's appeal.

Monsanto's aggressive pursuit of patent infringement lawsuits like Bowman v. Monsanto is well documented in a recent report by the Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds. As of January 2013, the corporation had filed 144 suits against 410 farmers in 27 states. Corn and soybean growers across the country will be watching the outcome of today's case very closely.

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Atrazine in water costs Syngenta

Pesticide giant Syngenta kicked off 2013 by writing checks to communities whose water supplies have been contaminated with their endocrine-disrupting herbicide, atrazine.

According to the Associated Press, the money will go to community water systems that serve more than 37 million Americans in all, mostly in farming states — including Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio — where atrazine has been commonly used to control weeds in corn fields.

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Common pesticides kill frogs, say scientists

Frogs exposed to commonly used pesticides in the lab had mortality rates between 40-100%, according to a new study in Germany. One fungicide, when applied at doses approved for use, caused frogs to die within an hour.

The new study provides strong support for earlier research pointing to pesticide exposure as a contributor to the global decline of amphibians, a disturbing trend that has puzzled researchers for years. Like canaries in a coal mine, frogs are often considered a "sentinel" species — and declines may be an early warning of broader harms.

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Pesticides & prostate cancer. Again.

New research shows that men exposed to certain agricultural pesticides are more likely to develop "aggressive" forms of prostate cancer. This latest news confirms earlier findings linking pesticide exposure with this type of cancer, which is the third most common cause of cancer death among males.

The recent study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at exposure data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) and cancer incidence information from state registries. The numbers showed that workers in Iowa and North Carolina exposed to certain organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides had significantly higher prostate cancer risk.

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On hold! Opposition slows Dow's 2,4-D corn

In good news for farmers and communities across the country, Dow announced last week that it is no longer planning to market its 2,4-D corn for the 2013 planting season.

The new genetically engineered (GE) seed has spurred strong opposition from farmers, consumers and public health officials, and the widespread concern seems to have slowed approval of the product. Organic and conventional farmers alike are worried about damage to their crops from 2,4-D drift; they also cite health risks to their families, especially their children who are particularly vulnerable to the chemical.

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#MoneyOutVotersIn

As we honor Martin Luther King's legacy this month, we also mark the third anniversary of Citizens United v FEC. This landmark Supreme Court decision essentially declared corporations to be people, opening the floodgates for unlimited political corporate contributions, and changing the face of election campaigns.

Citizen's United v. FEC undid over a century of campaign finance reforms, and the effects of the decision were clearly evident in the November elections. One clear example was the opposition to California's Proposition 37 — an initiative to label genetically engineered (GE) food in the state — which was almost entirely funded by corporations. Contributions totaled 46 million dollars.

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Saying 'no' to methyl iodide, worldwide

When the strawberry fumigant methyl iodide was taken off the U.S. market last March, pesticidemaker Arysta continued to promote the use of the cancer-causing chemical in other countries.

In coordination with partners around the world, PAN is now working hard to ensure methyl iodide is also removed from the global market. Last month, PAN International sent a letter to EPA calling on the agency to restrict the export of methyl iodide to other countries.

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