I’m writing from warm, sunny New Orleans, where 900 food justice activists attending the Community Food Security Coalition conference have just wrapped up five days of workshops, conversations and field trips to the region’s innovative and indomitable farmers, fisherfolk, urban gardeners, food workers and local organizers. These brave souls are—against all odds—reinventing healthy and sustainble food systems in their communities.
It's been a real nail-biter, but at about 5 pm today, the committee decided to recommend a global ban on endosulfan! As predicted, India would not agree, so the committee was forced to a vote. In the end, there were 24 votes for a ban, 5 abstentions, and no votes against.
It's Friday morning Geneva; the last day of POPRC6. For the last four days, scientific experts, government delegates, and representatives from industry and NGOs like PAN have been discussing some of the most dangerous chemicals in the world: those which are not only highly toxic but also extremely persistent. Long after they fulfill their intended purposes, these "chemical zombies" continue wander the Earth inflicting indiscriminate damage, refusing to die.
Plenty of calcium, fruits, vegetables & exercise. No drinking, no smoking, cut down on caffeine. Oh, and avoid DDT breakdown products — they may put your soon-to-be-born baby on the road to obesity.
Researchers in Spain say they were surprised to find this link between DDT and overweight infants. Turns out when women of normal weight have higher levels of DDE (DDT’s breakdown product) in their blood during pregnancy, their babies are twice as likely to grow quickly during the first 6 months of life, and 4 times as likely to be overweight when they reach the 14-month mark.
This Saturday, October 16, is World Food Day, a day on which to take action to end hunger — in one’s neighborhood, one’s country and around the world.
In the early dawn hours this Saturday, I’ll be riding a bus with dozens of other food justice activists headed first to a seafood cooperative and then to a local farmers’ cooperative in southern Mississippi. This is one of many exciting encounters that will be happening this weekend in connection with the Community Food Security Coalition’s annual conference in New Orleans (stay tuned for next week's posts from the field!).
Last week’s New York Times article, “Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery,” has set CCD observers abuzz, and prompted at least one counter from a journalist for CNN Money. Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, is the name given to the mysterious decline of honeybee populations around the world beginning around 2006. Each winter since, one-third of the U.S. honeybee population has died off or disappeared (more than twice what is normal). Scientists have been investigating the decline, and while CCD appears to have multiple interacting causes, a range of evidence points to sub-lethal pesticide exposures. Neonicotinoids are a particularly suspect class of insecticides; so much so that Italy and France have banned or restricted their use to protect their honeybee populations. This class of insecticides is highly neurotoxic to bees, and works by disabling insects’ immune and nervous systems. Also notable is the fact that these systemic pesticides, which are applied at the root or seed and then taken up by the plant’s vascular system, have seen a manifold increase in use since around 2005.
Industry's dirty defense of endosulfan
The POPRC meeting in Geneva continues, but there's not much news to report on endosulfan today. So I thought that today it would be interesting to give a run down of who is here to defend the insecticide.
It's Tuesday morning in Geneva, and there's lots of good news to report from the first full day of negotiations of the expert committee of the Stockholm Convention. As the parties consider whether to recommend a worldwide ban on the antiquated insecticide endosulfan, yesterday saw two more countries announce domestic bans. Prof. Masaru Kitano of Meiji University told the committee that the Japanese registration for endosulfan expired on September 29 and was not renewed, and then Ms. Kyunghee Choi of South Korea announced that all uses would be phased out in that country by December 2011.
A September 17th announcement that $180,000 in federal funds have been granted to back a PR campaign to "correct misconceptions about pesticide residues on food" caught the attention of farmers and organic food advocates across the country, according to the Associated Press. The federal Specialty Crop Block Grants from which the grant will come are one of the only sources of funding to support the production and marketing of crops such as fruits, nuts and vegetables in California. Critics charge that awarding taxpayer dollars from this fund to a project that effectively advocates against the value of organic produce is therefore an inappropriate use of public funds.
Next week the Stockholm Convention's Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee is convening again, an event insiders refer to as POPRC 6 (pronounced "pop rock"). Today's post will serve as the "pre-game show" for the meeting, highlighting what's a stake. On October 8 I fly to Geneva to attend the weeklong meeting, and with any luck I'll manage to update GroundTruth with a few dispatches from the meeting and then a "post-game" debrief afterward.