Picture of Kristin Schafer

Kristin Schafer

Looking back, looking forward

Reflecting back on 2019, I’m feeling inspired, appreciative — and energized.

I’m inspired by the momentum that’s building to make the changes our food system needs. California and New York took the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos off the market, building on last year’s successful legislative ban in Hawai’i. 

These long-overdue bans are victories for children, farmworkers and rural families, and reflect years of organizing with those who face exposure to pesticides every day.

Though chlorpyrifos is just one pesticide of many, high-profile wins like this move us toward the deeper changes needed, and the healthy, just food system we all deserve. As our Board Chair and children’s health advocate Nse Obot Witherspoon notes, “this is exactly why being a national network matters.”

Momentum across the globe

This year highlighted the fact that being part of a global network matters, too.

Earlier this month, the European Union announced their ban of chlorpyrifos — and our PAN partners there tell us the multiple state wins here in the U.S. helped make it happen.

Our work in the U.S. is in turn strengthened by the successes of our partners around the world. From celebrating progress in Europe on pollinator-harming neonics, glyphosate and more, to PAN Asia-Pacific’s campaign lifting up the voices of young farmers practicing agroecology, our global network makes us all stronger. 

These connections and models are particularly important for us right now, as our federal leaders are busy weakening and blocking common-sense protections. And it turns out we already lag far behind other countries in terms of banning and restricting the worst pesticides.

Vision, partnerships & persistence

We have work to do. Which is why I’m so appreciative of the partners across the country we get to work with every day, and the amazing community of PAN supporters.

As our Senior Scientist (and treasured colleague) Margaret Reeves noted in her reflections on the chlorpyrifos wins, it’s deep partnerships with those on the frontlines of pesticide harms that make us strong:

During this long process, the voice of farmworkers and rural families has remained front and center with a constant drumbeat of stories — of routine exposures, inadequate protections and direct health impacts — presented online, in the press and in person at state legislative briefings and federal government offices.

I’m also profoundly appreciative of the visionary leaders who founded PAN in the early 1980s; it was their passion and dedication that set this vibrant network in motion. 

Celebrating our 35th anniversary gave us opportunities throughout the year to honor and invite reflections from some of our founders, including Monica Moore, David Chatfield, and PAN Asia-Pacific’s director, Sarojeni V. Rengam. I encourage you to take time to read their stories.

Making change, together

We also made time in 2019 to celebrate with the incredible PAN community — some of whom have been supporting PANs work since the very beginning!

Strong community connections will be critical in the coming year, which is certain to be tumultuous as we navigate uncharted political territory on the national stage. It will also be filled with opportunities for real change, as food and farming issues move onto center stage in public, political and policy conversations across the country.

We’re ready.

We move into 2020 with renewed energy, commitment and purpose. It’s increasingly clear that the work we do every day at PAN is deeply connected to the core issues of our time: climate, democracy and justice. Many thanks to my wonderful colleagues at PAN — and all our predecessors, partners and supporters — for moving this work forward, together.

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Picture of Kristin Schafer

Kristin Schafer

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