Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Kristin Schafer's picture

Breakthrough could => Parkinson's prevention

My grandfather's Parkinson's was pretty far along by the time I knew him. I remember as a 4-year-old straining to understand his tremoring voice which — when combined with his thick Swedish accent — was almost impossible for me and my sister to understand. Even as a small child, I could tell it broke his heart.

In a study released last week, researchers explain exactly how pesticides can interact with the brain to trigger this incurable disease. Their findings may help prevent and treat Parkinson's for future generations.

Kristin Schafer
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Kristin Schafer's picture

Birth defects linked to pesticides, again

It's been more than a few years now, but I remember the roller coaster ride of pregnancy like it was yesterday. Nine months of bouncing from giddy excitement to mind-bending worry, pure joy to frantic nesting. Powerful emotions are amplified by equally powerful hormones, working overtime.

As scientists report yet again this week, those churning hormones also make exposure to pesticides during pregnancy especially dangerous. Birth defects, autism, lower IQ, reduced birth weight, infertility — the risk of these life-changing impacts is higher for infants conceived during spray season or carrying pesticides in their cordblood. Yikes.

Kristin Schafer
Margaret Reeves's picture

Dangers of farm work in the sunshine state

In last week’s Atlantic, Barry Estabrook shines a light on the horrific story of pesticides and farmworker families in Florida's Lake Apopka. Thousands in the small African American community suffer from myriad maladies including kidney failure and a rate of birth defects that is 4 times greater than in other Florida towns.

The response? Florida governor Rick Scott blatantly turns a blind eye, vetoing an allocation of $500,000 to investigate the birth defects. What was he thinking?

Margaret Reeves
Margaret Reeves's picture

Bilingual pesticide labels: It's about time!

Nearly 2 million U.S. farmworkers make up the backbone of our agricultural economy, performing some of the most demanding manual labor in any economic sector. Farmworkers are also some of the least protected, experiencing a rate of pesticide poisoning 39 times higher than that found in all other industries combined.

This month Pesticide Action Network joins other farmworker advocates in urging EPA to reduce these over-the-top rates of pesticide-related illness by ensuring that farmworkers have access to basic safety information — in a language they can read.

Margaret Reeves
Margaret Reeves's picture

Strange bedfellows on immigration reform

Who'd have thought? United Farmworkers (UFW) and the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) are on the same side of the table when it comes to farm labor and immigration reform. Since 2007 the Farm Bureau has been supporting and promoting AgJobsa compromise bill negotiated by farmworker leaders and farmers.

This month CFBF took their message to Washington, D.C. to argue against introduction of E-Verify, a mandatory electronic verification program to determine an employee's eligibility for employment. E-Verify, the Bureau claims, would lead to the collapse of the agricultural industry. UFW agrees.

Margaret Reeves
Pesticide Action Network's picture

New science: More evidence on the Parkinson's link

A combination of commonly used pesticides can triple the risk of Parkinson's disease (PD), according to a new study released last week in the European Journal of Epidemiology. People who work and/or live near fields sprayed with paraquat, maneb and ziram are more likely to suffer from the degenerative central nervous system disorder, for which there is no cure.

Researchers note that their findings provide the first strong evidence in humans that exposure to several pesticides increases risk of PD more than exposure to individual chemicals alone.

Pesticide Actio...
Margaret Reeves's picture

Celebrating farmworker victories

May has been a good month for farmworker advocates across the country — a fitting celebration of international labor day, celebrated on May 1st around the world. From California to Oregon to Florida, several hard-won and important victories deserve recognition.

Here in California, we're celebrating a legislative victory moving the Fair Treatment for Farmworkers Act to the governor’s desk. Thanks to our California supporters for your calls to Sacramento; you helped keep this important bill moving. We'll keep you posted on the outcome.

Margaret Reeves
Kristin Schafer's picture

Kids' cancer rates still climbing

Last week a friend posted a slideshow of her niece on facebook. The girl's father had written a song to accompany the photos of his daughter's battle with leukemia. It made me cry.

The fact that a 5-year-old girl should have to summon such courage takes me quickly from tears to anger. Children should not be battling cancer, yet more and more are forced to do exactly that. A report released last week confirmed that childhood cancer rates are higher than ever before, and continue to climb. 

Kristin Schafer
Kristin Schafer's picture

Reaching the autism tipping point

Autism affects many, many more children than we thought, according to a study released this week that stunned experts around the world. Meanwhile, evidence keeps rolling in that exposure to pesticides and other chemicals is at least partly responsible for the epidemic.

We may have finally reached the tipping point, where policymakers can no longer wring their hands and call for more studies — and where wearing a blue ribbon in April to raise awareness is clearly just not enough.

Kristin Schafer
Margaret Reeves's picture

CA law could strengthen farmworker voices

In California and throughout the country hard-working farmworker men and women face abuses on and off the field in part because they enjoy few legal protections.

On May 16, California legislators will be voting on a proposed law that tackles this issue: The Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act (SB 104). This legislation would strengthen farmworker voices and give them tools to protect the basic rights that most workers already enjoy — and should be wholeheartedly supported.

Margaret Reeves

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