We saw this coming with Scott Pruitt. Long before he became Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), his allegiances to industry were clear. And with new policies at the agency, he's paving the way for even more corporate sway over how our air, soil, water and communities are protected (or not).
After years of pressure from communities across California, the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) finally took action last week to protect schoolchildren from agricultural pesticide exposure. While not all that we'd hoped for, state officials announced new rules that establish a buffer zone for agricultural pesticides around public schools and daycare centers.
Sam Clovis — controversial nominee for the top scientist post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — withdrew his name from consideration.
Approximately every five years the U.S. Congress passes a multi-billion dollar set of policies collectively known as the Farm Bill — although it really should be called the “Food and Farm Bill” since about 80% of funds support food access and nutrition programs. Other policies include crop insurance and subsidies to large commodity crop growers (like corn and soybean), as well as a variety of small but vital supports to help new farmers get started. There are also programs to support family farmers implementing practices to better protect soil, water and pollinator resources.
In the midst of uncertain times, I’m finding comfort in an array of good news regarding pesticide bans and restrictions from around the world. Last week, PAN Staff Scientist Emily Marquez returned from the scientific committee meeting of the Stockholm Convention in Rome where several key pesticides were being discussed for potential global bans.
In the past weeks and months, many have been rocked by natural disasters — hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastating southern states and the Caribbean, a strong earthquake shaking Mexico City and destructive fires ripping through western states, Portugal and Spain.
Monsanto executives will not be happy about Carey Gillam's new book. Released last week, Whitewash documents the corporation's aggressive efforts to establish, promote and protect their RoundUp Ready seed and pesticide empire.
Farmers and farmer allies recently celebrated the signing of two new bills by Governor Jerry Brown. Both will provide much-needed support for farmers, and one specifically seeks to address the historic barriers that farmers of color have faced — a particularly noteworthy policy amidst the national dialogue on race and racism.
Concern about "vector-borne" diseases like Zika, West Nile virus and malaria are top of mind right now in the U.S., thanks to the deluge and devastation brought by recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Mosquitoes can carry these diseases, and those troublesome insects thrive in wet, warm conditions.
In these troubled times I’m eager to find rays of hope. In the world of food and farming, one such glimmer is the growing recognition by gardeners and farmers, consumers and politicians that healthy soil is essential to our community and planetary well-being.