I'm not trained as a public health scientist, but I've learned how to decipher epidemiology studies since I started working at PAN — and a good thing, too, because this stuff is interesting.
As I spoke to a packed room at the EcoFarm Conference late last month, it was clear that many of us eagerly await the unveiling of the White House's new plan to protect bees. But if recent events are any indication, officials aren’t getting the message that pesticides are a key part of the problem. Just one day before my talk, EPA approved another bee-harming pesticide.
With this recent decision, it’s time to shake up the White House hive. No, not the beehive near the Obamas’ kitchen garden, but the politics that are blocking progress for the nation’s pollinators. It's the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health that's releasing a new plan, and they really need to get it right.
Last week, a new farmer-led coalition held a press conference in Des Moines calling on state regulators to better protect Iowa farmers and communities from pesticide drift. The move reflects growing concern about the impacts of drift on Iowa farms and communities. Drift can undermine farmers’ ability to farm as they choose, jeopardize the state’s growing local food economy, and put Iowa children’s health at risk.
PAN's Iowa Policy Coordinator Kate Mendenhall was joined by the leadership and members of the Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) at the press event. Together they outlined the drift protection steps the coalition is requesting of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). Other organizations in the growing coalition include Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN).
In this week's State of the Union address, President Obama clearly signaled his renewed commitment to push free trade agreements through Congress. But civil society organizations across the world are speaking out louder than ever in firm opposition to the secretive "Fast Track" negotiations of the two global trade agreements now on the table: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TTIP is one of the latest agreements in the queue, currently in negotiation between the U.S. and the European Union (EU). Along with the TPP, TTIP is threatening international policy change that puts the interests of multinational corporations ahead of everything else, and strips away a slew of protections that social movements across the world have won in recent years.
As an agroecologist with a keen interest in soil, I'm excited to share that 2015 is the "International Year of Soils." In the coming months, I'll have a chance to dive into an issue that's near and dear to my heart.
I’ll be able to spread the word about how living, healthy soils provide the foundation for production of our feed, fiber and fuel — and about 95% of all the food we consume. I’ll tell stories of tried-and-true traditions of excellent soil stewardship and cutting-edge soil biology. What fascinates me most is the tremendous impact of biology — in all its incredible abundance and diversity — on soil systems.
Two weeks ago, I was speaking to a roomful of specialty crop growers and organic farmers from Indiana. They were concerned about the pesticide drift that is expected to accompany the planting of Dow and Monsanto’s new herbicide-resistant corn and soybean seeds this spring. Presenting alongside me was Anita Poeppel of Broadbranch Farms, a family-owned and operated farm in north central Illinois.
Anita shared a message with her fellow growers: We need to be ready. If USDA allows these new GE seeds — that’ve been designed to be sprayed with highly toxic, drift-prone herbicides — onto the market, we are all going to be in a lot of trouble.
This may be the only time you see PAN nominate a pesticide manufacturer for an award.
Every year, our friends at Corporate Accountability International (CAI) highlight the year’s worst corporate actors in their Corporate Hall of Shame. The Hall of Shame helps hold corporations accountable for the most egregious examples of corporate abuse. This year, we’re partnering with CAI to nominate a particularly bad actor in our food and farming system: Bayer CropScience.
EPA just released its long overdue look at how the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos is affecting human health. Once again, we're beyond disappointed with the agency's lack of leadership when it comes to protecting children from pesticides.
On the good news side, the report does recognize (finally!) that this particular chemical poses unacceptable risks to farmworkers, and something must be done. The bad news? The solutions they propose don't go nearly far enough, plus they manage to completely dodge the growing evidence that chlorpyrifos can derail the development of children's brains.
California officials appear poised to make a decision that would spell safer strawberry fields and spur farmer innovation away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer solutions. That is, if pesticide proponents don’t get in the way.
After months of delay and years of review, next Friday the state plans to release a new series of "mitigations" (government speak for "protections") for the difficult-to-control fumigant pesticide called chloropicrin. And after a prolonged public hearing and comment process, the adequacy of these protections — from no-spray buffer zones to public disclosure issues — will be under intense scrutiny.
Looking back at 2014, I'm proud of the progress we've made on some of our long-standing issues. And, in light of the country's renewed conversations about fairness and justice, it's good to be reminded of how much we can accomplish when we're committed to listening, learning and working together.
Our movement is powered by a diverse, energized network of allies who coalesce around specific values and actions, often over the course of several years. Some of our work moves quickly, and some more slowly than we'd like. But either way, we're clearly making progress.