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Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)

A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS archive for complete information.

Dear PANUPS Subscriber,

If you enjoy PANUPS, you’ll love the PAN North America magazine we send to our members three times a year. In colorful and often personal stories, the magazine chronicles progress toward pesticide reform and equitable, sustainable food systems. We mail the magazine to PAN members, and it’s a great way to share our work with your friends and family. Click through to join PAN and receive the magazine. We'll return to our normal PANUPS reporting format next week. In the meanwhile, the links and leads below spotlight a few stories from the current magazine issue so you can see for yourself.

This issue celebrates spring’s approach with the theme Renewal, Hope and Hard Work. The thrilling transition in Washington signals that business as usual may be changing. It will take our hard work, but the opportunity is there to promote healthier food, social equity and environmental regeneration with sustainable investments and policies. Fundamental to this change must be a loosening of the grip that Monsanto and other multinationals have on food policy and practice.

The architects and builders of fair, healthy and green farming and food are right now at work in fields, orchards, forests and markets across North America and around the world. When you join PAN, you support their work and their harvest.

-- Kathryn Gilje, Executive Director


April 02, 2009

 

 

Agriculture at the Crossroads

The United States has spent decades building a chemical-intensive food infrastructure geared toward industrial production on a corporate model. That infrastructure, and the agrochemical industry it feeds, could be reshaped in fundamental ways if the food movement continues to broaden its base while maintaining an explicitly political edge and focus.

Early signals from the incoming administration indicate that the core issue on which food and agriculture activists must focus these next few years is corporate control of the food system. Tom Vilsack’s nomination to Secretary of Agriculture sent ripples through the food movement around two points that have enormous consequences for the future of who owns agriculture — Vilsack’s ties to agricultural biotechnology and his support for agrofuels. Agricultural biotech and agrofuels are also two arenas in which the corporate control of our global food system by giants like Monsanto is gathering speed. U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidies and government procurement contracts are the largest market levers currently incentivizing these agribusiness industry sectors. Policies and programs in the USDA could, if wisely revised and redirected, restructure our food system into one that supports green jobs, replenishes the environment, slows climate change and sustains rural livelihoods the world over. Change on the scale before us moves simultaneously though social movements, policy frameworks, farming practices, paradigms of science, and broad shifts in individual habits of consumption. An international coalition as broadly based as the food movement must remain active on many levels and in many different venues—from school cafeterias, city councils, boardrooms and family farms to the UN, USDA and Congress. Our voices arise from diverse life experiences and touch on an array of issues but they are united by the fundamental question: “Who will produce our food, how, and for whose benefit?” Full Article »

More in Renewal: Hope and Hard Work

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The rise of the domestic fair trade movement

In the past 40 years, nearly four million small farmers have gone out of business in North America while big agribusiness firms have continued to thrive. Since 1995, under the North America Free Trade Agreement, there has been a 40% decrease in commodity prices paid to farmers while U.S. consumers have seen food costs soar 22%. Against this background, more than 70 activists representing 41 organizations—farmers, farmworkers, traders, processors, retailers and fair-food advocates--gathered for the second annual meeting of the Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA) on December 7–8, 2008, at the Organic Valley Dairy in La Farge, Wisconsin. Fair Trade was born in response to the failed promises of “Free Trade,” which has left millions of small farmers in poor countries unable to reach international markets. Under Fair Trade, these farmers can now sell their products (such as coffee and cocoa) at better prices in the affluent markets of industrialized nations. Domestic Fair Trade incorporates principles that promote healthy, chemical-free foods that meet social justice standards. Full Article »

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Sweet, Organic and Visionary

When shoppers pay $3 for a pint of Swanton’s uniquely delicious strawberries, they are supporting “one of the most progressive farm operations in California,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1987, Swanton’s, a member of the National Family Farm Coalition, became the state’s first strawberry farm to be certified organic, which meant halting the use of methyl bromide--more than a decade before the soil fumigant was listed for phaseout under the Montreal Protocol. Without methyl bromide, neighboring farmers warned, Swanton’s crops wouldn’t last two seasons. Cochran proved them wrong, and EPA acknowledged this success by awarding Cochran its 2002 Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for “pioneering” work raising strawberries “without relying on the soil fumigant methyl bromide.” Thanks in part to Cochran’s example, organic farming now accounts for 4.6% of the state’s strawberry crop. In 1998, Swanton’s became the first organic farm to sign a union contract securing workers’ wages and benefits. Full Article »

More in Solutions

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First Word

Renewal: Hope & Hard Work

Campaigns

Solutions

Stories from the PAN Network

Last Word

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News Updates

We will return to our traditional PANUPS format next week. Meanwhile, we haven't stopped tracking the news. Below are straight-to-the-source links for three breaking news items that we plan to cover in more detail in next week's PANUPS.

  • Lindane's last stand: In a letter to Secretary of State Clinton and Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Sharfstein, a coalition of groups urged support at the May Stockhom Convention meeting for listing lindane without exemption for children's lotions and shampoos. Source: PANNA
  • McDonald's to take steps to cut potato pesticides: McDonald's Corp, the largest purchaser of potatoes in the United States, has agreed to take preliminary steps to reduce pesticide use in its domestic potato supply, shareholder groups said on Tuesday. Source: Reuters
  • Pesticides linked to birth defects in United States: A study published in the April 2009 issue of the medical journal Acta Pædiatrica is the first to report that birth defect rates in the United States were highest for women conceiving in the spring and summer, which correlated with increased levels of pesticides in surface water. Source: Science Daily

 

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