My kids had a great baseball season playing in Little League this Spring. We've now moved on to other summery things like swim lessons in Berkeley's freezing fog. So I was caught off-guard by last week's surprise collision between my work and home worlds, namely the revelation that USDA has just given Scotts Miracle Gro (the lawn chemical company and much decried sponsor of Major League Baseball), the go-ahead for a new and once again totally unnecessary genetically engineered product: Roundup Ready lawn grass. And they may have pulled off a de facto deregulation of all future GE products in the process.
In some circles, it would be called a bribe, at best. Evidence revealed last week shows that Monsanto's former Chief Financial Officer admitted that the agrichemical corporation planned to spend $150 million in cash and trade incentives in Latin America, North America and Europe to spur the uptake of the pesticide glyphosate, better known as RoundUp. $150 million is no small change — and surely that's not all that's been spent.
The news came to light last week as part of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Sadly, small farmers around the world know all too well the carrot and stick approaches that Monsanto and other pesticide giants use to lure farmers (and nations) toward industrial agriculture and onto the pesticide treadmill.
While there are hundreds of species of earthworms, anyone who makes compost knows the redworm, or Eisenia fetida. They make what's considered perhaps the richest form of natural fertilizer — a true friend to farmers and gardeners alike.
What you might not know is that very low levels of pesticides can kill these "black gold" producers. If they don't kill outright, pesticides can cause other serious harm, like reducing worms' ability to reproduce. Exposure to the neonicitinoid pesticide imidacloprid — well-known for its toxicity to honeybees — can also cause serious harm to worms, damaging DNA and deforming sperm. Bad news.
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.
I have never been an organizer. Tell me where the march is, and I’ll show up if I can.
But several months ago I got an e-mail forward from Graham White, a beekeeper in Scotland. It said something to the effect of: “Hey beekeepers, picture this: a flash mob for the bees!”
The smell of earth is the first thing I always notice when I return to the Midwest. I grew up among the lakes and prairies of this region, and though I am intrigued by the salty, tangy smell of the sea that comes in with the fog where I now live, it's the smell of soil that grounds me, and brings me home.
Traveling to Oklahoma and through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota this week, I have been honored to deliver 6,101 thank you notes from the PAN community, expressing sincere appreciation to farmers for their innovation and hard work to grow good food that nourishes us, while also stewarding the earth and keeping that soil alive.
The pesticide industry’s latest “we're on your side” PR campaign is in high gear this summer — on the web, in ads, lobbying. Their cross-country road show features people dressed as rats, West Nile-spreading mosquitoes, Lyme disease-carrying ticks and community-destroying weeds that, were it not for pesticides, threaten to overrun our homes, schools and Little League fields.
“I’ve heard that we don’t need to use pesticides, is that true?” False, says the “Facts” page on the Debug the Myths website. Herbicides, for example, are essential to fight allergies and asthma, cracks in roads and sidewalks, and prevent overgrown bus stops. And they're serious. These alarms are delivered by RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), they’re attracting attention and they’re blocking legislation.
Summer’s here, and it’s been 6 months since cancer-causing methyl iodide was approved for use in California agriculture. It’s only been in the past few weeks, however, that we’ve actually seen this incredibly dangerous chemical used in the fields of California.
Late last month, a farm in Sanger became the first in California to use the fumigant pesticide. Neighboring communities responded with a rally and demonstration outside the Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner’s office, demanding public health protections based on sound science, not corporate influence. "Today's message to all California regulators is clear: Do your job, protect public health and support farmers' transition away from toxic pesticides" said Sarah Sharpe, environmental health director of Fresno Metro Ministry.
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.
Last week we alerted readers to behind-the-scenes lobbying in Congress that would strip pesticide protections from our nation's stongest environmental laws. On Tuesday, June 21st, the Senate Agriculture Committee quietly approved legislation to exempt pesticide applications from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act — with no notice, and no press.
The bill, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872) would reverse a 2009 court order requiring the permits as a part of the National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES). Instead, pesticides would remain subject only to the much weaker statute under which most pesticides are regulated, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). H.R. 872 has already passed in the House of Representatives.