In countries around the world, evidence of the devastating effects of highly hazardous pesticides on people’s health and the environment is on the rise. The introduction of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered seeds in the 90s has led to a resurgence of chemical sales and widespread drift of harmful herbicides like glyphosate and dicamba. Corporate consolidation has enabled three mega-pesticide companies to capture over 70% of the global pesticide market and 60% of commercial seed sales. In the U.S., this corporate power translates directly into political power, and has led to the unraveling of critical health and environmental protections.
This year has been marked by encouraging and long-overdue progress toward eradicating the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos. Following on the heels of Hawaii's ban of the chemical last year, California will phase out chlorpyrifos starting early next year. And as 2019 comes to a close, we can add two more huge victories to the list.
Each year on December 3, we join our PAN International colleagues across the globe to mark the anniversary of the deadly pesticide plant leak in Bhopal, India. Today is the 35th anniversary of that tragic event.
As a mom and a children’s health advocate, I have a deep personal connection to PAN’s work. We all know how important it is to create a world that’s healthy and safe for our kids, and when it comes to food and farming, PAN is getting it done. That’s why I’ve been a proud member of the Board of Directors for the past seven years, and now serve as PAN’s Board Chair.
In mid-November, the Trump administration announced plans to weaken environmental safeguards for atrazine, a pesticide linked to a number of serious health effects in humans — including birth defects and cancer.
For well over a decade, PAN has worked with partner groups in our key states to test the air for pesticide drift using a device called the Drift Catcher. We launched the latest round of drift-catching in California a little over a year ago, and we’re now reflecting on lessons learned and awaiting results.
Last month, the government of Thailand announced plans to ban the pesticides paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos by December 1. The news was not taken well by U.S. officials, who have been pressing hard to convince Thailand not to move forward with the planned bans.
We need a system where the landless get control of the land, and agrarian reform becomes an integral part of the change we’re working towards. We need a system where agroecology is widespread, and not industry-backed agroecology but a people-to-people kind of movement building.
In mid-August, I joined PAN as the organization’s new communications associate. Starting a new position is always an adjustment, and this one came with a move to Iowa, and as a Southern California girl who recently finished graduate school in México, the move to the Midwest was a big one!
In early October, the California Farmer Justice Collaborative (CFJC) was thrilled to celebrate two years of The Farmer Equity Act addressing the historical inequalities in California’s agricultural system.