Sixteen years ago, a group of California parents sued state regulators for failing to protect their children from hazardous pesticides.
Crop dusters flying overhead, irrigators pumping, and chemical odors in the air. For people who live near RD Offutt’s pesticide-intensive potato fields in Minnesota, these are characteristics of summertime, as much as canoe rides across the lake or picking fresh vegetables from the garden.
Monday was a great day for the nation’s two million farmworkers and their families. On September 28, EPA released its long-awaited improved rules for the protection of farmworkers from on-the-job exposure to hazardous pesticides.
While we didn't get everything we hoped for, the rules are now much, much stronger than they've been for the past 20 years. And that’s a real victory!
Extended drought in California, freeze warnings in Oregon, flooding in the Southeast…. Today’s mounting environmental stresses of extreme and unpredictably shifting patterns in the weather, along with exhausted soil, resistant “superweeds” and pollinator losses, are taking a toll on farms across the country.
These stressors, many brought on or exacerbated by the destructive practices of industrialized farming, are also giving us a pretty clear warning that our approach to farming is going to have to change — significantly and fast.
Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of participating in a two-day Soil Not Oil conference in Richmond, California.
Last week, the federal courts took a stand for bees and beekeepers. In their written decision, the judges said EPA had approved a new neonicotinoid pesticide — sulfoxaflor — without adequate review. The court ordered the Dow product be pulled from the market.
The judges also took EPA to task for saying yes to the pesticide despite strong evidence showing that the pesticide was “highly toxic” to bees. This is a real and important, much-needed win for pollinators.
We’ve often talked about how low-dose exposure to pesticides are a serious cause for concern, and at the root of many health problems for children. Last fall, Dr. Bruce Lanphear — a physician and professor of pediatrics from Simon Fraser University in Canada — released a video entitled Little Things Matter, clearly illustrating the impact of chemicals on children's developing brains.
I’m very happy to report that Dr. Lanphear recently toured India to spread the word about the harms of low-dose exposures to pesticides and other common environmental toxins. Over the course of the five-city tour he met with medical students, fellow doctors, the media, concerned community groups and policymakers.
It's that time of year! Freshly scrubbed, nervous-looking kids don backpacks, pack lunches and head off to school.
This back-to-school season there's both excellent and not-so-great news when it comes to schoolkids and pesticides. On balance, it's fair to say there's exciting progress afoot for children's health — from pesticide-free school lunches to a nasty brain-harming chemical finally getting the boot.
As we celebrate Labor Day this year, too many of this country's 80 million workers still don't receive fair wages or adequate workplace protections — including workers on farms across the country. But there's a change coming for farmworkers, with stronger workplace protections on the horizon.
Innovative farmers and ranchers have, for generations, deliberately invested in building soil health. And this year — with the UN’s International Year of Soils and implementation of California's Healthy Soil Initiative well underway — we'll be pressing policymakers to turn innovation for healthy soil into standard practice.
The timing could not be better. Widespread implementation of practices that build and protect soil health is the only certain thing that will ensure farmers’ ability to both mitigate and adapt to worsening conditions associated with climate change. California's historic drought provides a dramatic case in point.