I spent much of last week in the sub-freezing cold of northern Minnesota, attending the 8th Annnual Great Lakes Indigenous Farming Conference. Every year, Winona LaDuke and the White Earth Land Recovery Project bring a couple hundred farmers, activists, and tribal leaders together on the White Earth Reservation to discuss the intersections of farming and culture from an indigenous perspective. One of the goals of this year's conference was to lay the groundwork for an Anishinaabeg/Great Lakes seed library.
A new UN report released today is making headlines: Agroecological farming can double food production within 10 years, while mitigating climate change AND alleviating poverty.
Yes!! I was elated to read the morning’s coverage of this highly anticipated report from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter. I've been writing on the very real need to prioritize policy support for and investments in agroecology for quite some time, but it is truly encouraging to see such a clear, affirming statement coming from the UN.
How does our food production system drive our exposure to toxic chemicals? Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) posed this question to members of its Environmental Health Policy Institute. A cohort of very smart and engaged health professionals and scientists responded.
The resulting collection of essays is thought-provoking and compelling — absolutely worth your time to explore. I encourage you to clear your desk and your mind, get yourself a fresh cup of (maybe organic?) coffee or tea, and dive in.
Maybe. But internationally recognized jazz guitarist John Scofield believes that small actions for change can make a difference. “I actually consider it a gift to musicians that we are given the opportunity to make contributions, however nominal, through our everyday efforts,” John tells us.
John has joined with Patagonia to benefit Pesticide Action Network, one song at a time. When a fan, activist or customer purchases John’s song “How Deep” for 99¢ via the Patagonia Music Collective, net proceeds go to PAN.
With tobacco, lead and alcohol we ultimately acted with precaution when the science on human health effects raised red flags – and we’ve saved millions of lives.
So what do you call it—wise, fiscally responsible, necessary?— when we act to promote farm practices that protect the natural resources that allow us to produce abundant, healthy food, even though the science on just how this is accomplished is not yet complete? Organic or ecological agriculture promises to do this and more. It also helps maintain vibrant rural economies and save lives by providing nutrient-rich food and eliminating the use of highly hazardous pesticides. Scientists now know that it can also help mitigate climate change.
Do you want to know if the food you eat and feed your family has been genetically engineered? If you do, you’re not alone. Over 95% of people responding to an MSNBC poll this week on labeling of GE foods have said loudly and clearly, “OF COURSE we want to know!” Over 40,000 people have voted (you can too, here). This follows on an earlier CBS poll finding that 87% people want to know if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in their food. Evidently, this is something that people feel strongly about.
Childhood. Cancer. These two words should have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Childhood is about exploration and discovery, joyful learning about the world around us. Cancer is about fear, roller coasters of painful treatment and hopeful remission, and all too often, death.
Yet the two words are indeed linked. Childhood cancers — including brain cancer and leukemia — have been on a steady rise in this country for the last 20 years. And increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals is known to be one of the reasons behind this horrifying trend. It's time to turn the numbers around.
Last Friday EPA finally responded to our request that they immediately pull an unpronounceable neonicotinoid pesticide (clothianidin) from the market. Our December 8 letter pointed to a leaked Agency memo proving that the chemical was and is on the market on the basis of an invalid study. EPA's responding letter came after over 10 weeks of silence, in the face of hundreds of thousands of citizens voicing concern.
Rice, the staple food of three billion people around the world, is at risk. Chemical-intensive farming practices have wreaked havoc on rice cultivation, particularly in Asia.
Pesticide Action Network Asia/Pacific, with partners in 15 Asian countries, has launched Collective Rice Action, a campaign that will mobilize farmers, consumers and the media across Asia between January and March this year. Thousands of people will participate to celebrate and protect the strong tradition of rice cultivation around Asia.
It's often unnerving to face multinational corporate capture of chemical policy and science. I certainly felt like I'd been kicked in the gut last December, when, after a diligent, multi-year review that actually kept science and the health of Californians as core commitments, chemical company influence won out as California legalized "one of the most toxic chemicals on earth" — despite the analysis and recommendations of their own scientists and overwhelming public opposition.