On my way back from the Stockholm Convention meeting in Geneva, I stopped for a few days in Illinois to attend the Peoria and Springfield screenings of the documentary film Living Downstream. PAN was a co-sponsor of the five-city screening tour, and I had the honor of moderating the post-film Q&A sessions with filmmaker Chanda Chevannes and Sandra Steingraber, the author of the book that the documentary is based on.
As a working mom, I've learned the value of setting priorities, and the importance of thinking about how today's decisions affect the future. That's why I'll be voting on Tuesday, and I'm pestering my family, friends and neighbors to do the same.
The outcome of this year's national elections will determine whether and how we, as a country, prioritize issues I care a lot about — issues like safe food, children's health, protection of workers and support for family farms.
Environmental Health Perspectives recently published an article directly linking consumption of conventionally-produced fruits and vegetables to pesticide residues in children’s bodies. Children are at particular risk when it comes to pesticides. For instance, consumption of organophosphate (OP) pesticide residues have recently been linked to increased rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. In the EHP study, Forty-six children supplied 239 samples that were analyzed for (OP) and pyrethroid pesticides—both nervous system toxicants and suspected endocrine disruptors. About one fifth of the food samples contained residues. These findings replicate similar results published two years ago in the same journal.
Monsanto’s humiliations are all over the news these days. Last week we heard that Monsanto is actually paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ weedkillers. Monsanto’s latest press release announces it is offering RoundupReady cotton farmers up to $20/acre to pour on extra herbicides. In fact, The Organic Center reports that this bizarre practice—a reversal of Monsanto’s traditional exhortations to rely on its own chemical Roundup—has actually been going on for over a year now, a response to the Monsanto-induced epidemic of superweeds now ravaging the country. As Tom Philpott explains, it’s a desperate last-hour attempt by the giant seed and pesticide company to slow the wildfire spread of noxious weeds resistant to Roundup, an epidemic which essentially spells the demise of Monsanto’s entire RoundupReady “system of weed management.” Other last-ditch efforts by Monsanto to keep revenue coming in include genetically engineering its Roundup Ready seeds for “enhanced resistance,” that is the ability to withstand—at least temporarily—even heavier dousings of Roundup. Talk about trying to smother a fire with gasoline.
Otter populations in the UK have made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction. According to the Guardian, their recovery is largely due to less polluted rivers resulting from UK bans on organochlorine pesticides (OCs) in the 1970s. Not only is the water safer for the otters, who are high up in the aquatic food chain, but also for their prey: fish populations have likewise recovered.
Last week, countries gathered in Japan hammered out a global agreement to hold corporations liable for genetically modified (GM) organism pollution of ecosystems.
According to the The Mainichi Daily News, a "biosafety protocol" was adopted to set "redress rules for damage caused to ecosystems by the movements of genetically modified crops."The move came at the end of the fifth meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, kicking off international talks on the Convention on Biological Diversity. The new rules, which bolster mechanisms to hold agricultural biotech corporations like Monsanto liable, will be opened for ratification next spring.
I’m writing from warm, sunny New Orleans, where 900 food justice activists attending the Community Food Security Coalition conference have just wrapped up five days of workshops, conversations and field trips to the region’s innovative and indomitable farmers, fisherfolk, urban gardeners, food workers and local organizers. These brave souls are—against all odds—reinventing healthy and sustainble food systems in their communities.
Every October, The Breast Cancer Fund updates State of the Evidence. The report examines the latest on what scientists know about the links between chemicals in the environment and breast cancer. The 2010 edition is chock full of information on how pesticides and other chemicals (in food packaging, cosmetics, health care products, household cleaners and more) are contributing to our breast cancer epidemic.
With national climate policy stalled in the Senate, hopes for policy progress rest on local, state and regional initiatives, like California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). AB 32 is important because the state is looked to as a leading indicator of how progressive policy battles will play out, and because California's renewable energy economy is among the biggest.Adopted in 2006, AB 32 requires the state to come up with a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That plan is due to come into effect in 2011 and the oil and gas industry is on trying to stop it with Proposition 23, spending millions of dollars to a campaign to indefinitely delay climate policy passed by California voters.
It's been a real nail-biter, but at about 5 pm today, the committee decided to recommend a global ban on endosulfan! As predicted, India would not agree, so the committee was forced to a vote. In the end, there were 24 votes for a ban, 5 abstentions, and no votes against.