Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Children's health

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Epigenetics: Gambling with our future

The "obesity epidemic" is constantly in the news. This year's CDC figures show that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. Childhood cancers and neurodevelopmental delays are on the rise.

Scientific studies show that many of these health conditions can be linked to exposures to environmental contaminants such as pesticides, and new research is finding that exposures occurring as far back as three generations can cause adverse health conditions today.

Pesticide Actio...
Kristin Schafer's picture

Chemical gene damage carries across generations

Part of my job here at PAN is keeping track of the latest research about how pesticides are harming children’s health. This has kept me too busy of late, as studies seem to be coming fast and furious linking pesticides with childhood asthma, autism, birth defects, cancer and more.

One recent study gave me serious pause. We already understand that some chemicals can change how our genes function; now researchers know that this damage can be passed from one generation to the next. I’m no scientist, but I understand enough to know that compromising the DNA of future generations is not a good idea.

Kristin Schafer
Pesticide Action Network's picture

Fetal exposure alters brain structure, say scientists

When a pregnant woman is exposed to low levels of a commonly used pesticide, the architecture of her developing infant's brain may be irreversibly damaged. This according to researchers who for the first time used MRI testing to see structural evidence of harm from exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos during fetal development.

Researchers report that the changes in brain structure they observed were consistent with the learning and developmental effects (including reduced IQs) that have been linked to chlorpyrifos. The effects were observed at exposure levels well below those considered harmful by EPA.

Pesticide Actio...
Kristin Schafer's picture

1 in 54 boys? Time for autism prevention.

If we set our minds to it, we can turn back the rising tide of autism. But it will take the courage to embrace the following common-sense goal, in both policy and practice: Expecting parents and young children should not take in chemical contaminants that are known to harm developing minds.

This week, scientists released a list of exactly which contaminants we're talking about. The top 10 chemicals contributing to autism and learning disabilities include commonly used pesticides, as well as chemicals found in many consumer products. The scientists tell us the list is likely to grow. But for now, it's time to act on what we know.

Kristin Schafer
Kristin Schafer's picture

Mother takes on Monsanto, wins global prize

Hats off to this mother of three who got fed up and took charge. Thirteen years ago, Sofía Gatica's newborn died of kidney failure after being exposed to pesticides in the womb. After the despair came anger, then a fierce determination to protect the children in her community and beyond.

Today, she's one of six grassroots leaders from around the world receiving the Goldman Environmental Prize, in recognition of her courageous — and successful — efforts.

Kristin Schafer
Kristin Schafer's picture

Low doses matter hugely, say scientists

It's been the official mantra of pesticide companies for decades: "The dose makes the poison." While it makes intuitive sense — you'd think that the more of a chemical you're exposed to, the sicker you'll get — the science has, in fact, been saying otherwise for years.

A team of 12 scientists recently released a report calling on EPA to completely revamp the way they evaluate chemicals, to better reflect this now fully understood reality: Tiny amounts of certain chemicals can have devastating effects on human health.

Kristin Schafer
Pesticide Action Network's picture

Rural families take on fumigant pesticides

A group of rural Californians made the trek to Sacramento Tuesday morning to tell lawmakers just how concerned they are about their families being exposed to cancer-causing soil fumigant pesticides.

Many people in Tehama county live just feet from where fumigant pesticides are routinely applied. At the state capitol, community members presented officials with data showing high levels of a carginogenic fumigant pesticide detected in yards neighboring one of these fields.

Pesticide Actio...
Kristin Schafer's picture

When IQs fall

In the past year, there have been a slew of studies showing that when a child is exposed to certain pesticides — whether before birth or while eating conventionally-grown food — his or her IQ may drop. Sometimes by several points.

But what does this really mean? As a society, what might the impacts be? In short, should we be worried? The answer, according to one recent study, is an emphatic and sobering "yes".

Kristin Schafer
Pesticide Action Network's picture

Connecticut's 'pesticide-free schools' under attack

In 2005, Connecticut passed a landmark law prohibiting the use of hazardous pesticides in schools. And ever since, the state has been successfully ensuring that children are exposed to fewer chemicals where they learn, play and grow.

Now this historic program is under attack.

 A proposed state law — supported by the pesticide industry — would reverse Connecticut’s strong stance on keeping schools pesticide-free. Connecticut groups and concerned legislators are fighting back.

Pesticide Actio...
Kristin Schafer's picture

Science still catching up on DDT harms

Two recent studies report new evidence of the harms of a very old pesticide.

It's that pesky, persistent and infamous chemical, DDT. Nearly 40 years after its use in agriculture was banned in many countries around the world, it's still present in our environment, food and bodies at levels that harm human health. And children, once again, are especially vulnerable.

Kristin Schafer

Pages