Are you ready for spring? For most of us, that means house cleaning and a welcome wardrobe change. But for farmers and other rural residents it means hard work and often, bracing for the impact of pesticide drift. It means waiting to see if their crops will be damaged, and guessing which days they'll have to keep the kids indoors.
Each year we mark national Autism Awareness Month with an update on how many children officials say are now on the autism spectrum. We highlight the latest science linking prenatal pesticide exposure to increased risk. And we make an urgent pitch to shift from awareness to prevention.
Well, once again the numbers are up. CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are now on the autism spectrum, up from 1 in 88 in 2008 and 1 in 150 "way back" in 2002. And once again, new science links certain chemical exposures to derailed fetal brain development — with an ever clearer understanding of how the damage is done. The good news? When it comes to talking prevention, there's been real progress.
On Cesar Chavez Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered a slap in the face to that day’s namesake. Five years after PAN and partners challenged the agency’s lack of protections for children from drifting pesticides — and eight years after Congress passed a law requiring it — the agency yet again failed to take any substantive action.
Frustrated yet? I am. EPA is suggesting it's better to keep pesticides on the market without any new protections, even after acknowledging potentially serious impacts on children. In Monday’s response, EPA stated that “young children may have unique exposures that adults do not have.” And still, the agency has chosen to do next to nothing.
94% to 98% of corn seed in the U.S. is pre-treated with neonics.
A while ago I blogged about a new EPA rule banning a specific set of super-toxic rat poisons for retail sale to homeowners. The ban was put in place to protect children and pets from the dangers of these rodenticide products. The company that makes them, Reckitt Benckiser, challenged the rule in court.
Well, history repeats itself. When California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently restricted the retail sale of these same super-toxic rat poisons, Reckitt Benckiser, sued DPR as well. This means that while the legal petition winds its slow way through the judicial system, the toxic rodenticides will continue being sold in California.
As I cross Cesar Chavez Avenue on my way to work each morning, I'm greeted by murals with the visionary labor organizer's portrait. When I reach the PAN office, he smiles down at me from a poster hanging prominently in the hall.
Happy Farmworker Awareness Week! Each year we celebrate this nationwide event by encouraging the PAN community to join us in a variety of actions, from lifting up stories from the field to supporting actions to protect the health of farmworkers and their families. Among the urgent challenge these workers face every day is exposure to harmful pesticides on the job.
Our food system depends on the labor of these more than two million workers, and they depend on our support! This year there’s a lot happening. Topping our list of action opportunities is the fact that EPA has finally proposed much-needed improvements in the national worker safety rules for farmworkers. It's about time!
Pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard bees continues to grow stronger. Today in DC, PAN joined partners to hand deliver a message from more than half a million people to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: Step up and prioritize protecting bees from harmful pesticides.
Even though independent studies clearly show that neonicotinoid pesticides (or "neonics") are hazardous to bees, EPA won't conclude its review of these chemicals until 2018. Meanwhile, neonics are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. And bee populations continue to decrease at alarming rates.
Growing environmental threats of climate change on top of ever-intensifying economic stresses are pushing many farmers around the world to their edge. At the same time, a growing number of these farmers and scientists are realizing that 1) continued reliance on the energy, water and chemical-intensive industrial model of agriculture is simply no longer an option and 2) our most robust response to today’s converging stresses lies in cultivating resilience and food democracy.
Last Thursday, my daughter and I had the opportunity to join a group of Californians urging state officials in Sacramento to take action on the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos. In an event organized by Californians for Pesticide Reform, we made our case to the cameras on the north steps of the capitol, then submitted a petition signed by over 12,000 people to the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).
Members of the group El Quinto Sol de América from Tulare County were among those who traveled to Sacramento to help shake the agency into action. For these residents of the small Central Valley agricultural town of Lindsay, the problem of chlorpyrifos is personal.