Recent Articles About Pesticides

How Seed and Pesticide Companies Push Farmers to Use Bee-Killing Insecticides

If you’ve been following what’s happening with bees in this country, you’ve probably heard about neonicotinoid insecticides (or “neonics”). The most commonly used insecticides in the world, neonics are extremely toxic to insects, including beneficial ones like bees. Not only have they been linked to a decline in honeybee numbers, but a new research article published in Nature found that seeds coated in the insecticide have a negative effect on wild bees on farms. Wild bees, such as bumblebees, contribute billions of dollars of value in pollination services to crops. Read more

Can Local Honey Bee Resolutions Help Bring Pollinators Back?

As pollination season in California’s orchards draws to a close, and thousands of beehives are being trucked back to the Midwest, honeybee health is at the forefront of many people’s minds. This spring, 1.6 million honeybees have been medicated, fed syrups, and put to work in the orchards across the state’s Central Valley (including 760,000 acres of almonds), a lucrative business for farmers and hedge funds alike. Read more

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Dietary Guidelines Edition

It may seems like the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend the best combination of protein, grains, and produce, to keep you healthy, fit, and free of disease, are set in stone. But they’re actually revised every five years by a panel of nutrition scientists—and because the guidelines impact billion-dollar government programs like school and military lunches as well as consumer guidelines like the food pyramid, or the more recent MyPlate, updating them is a highly politicized process. Read more

Is the Strawberry Field The Next Farmworkers’ Rights Battleground?

For many, a red, ripe strawberry elicits sweet memories of sunshine, summer, and childhood.

Glorietta, a strawberry picker in California, has quite a different relationship with the fruit. Hunched over picking for up to 10 hours a day for a mid-sized commercial grower, Glorietta—who asked that we not use her real name for fear of retaliation—says her body hurts all the time. She says the farm’s foreman constantly berates her and the other farmworkers. And she says the farm often fails to pay her adequately for the hours she works. Read more

Will Monsanto Save the Monarch Butterfly?

Monarch butterflies are in trouble. These popular insects, which have captured the public imagination with their several-thousand mile migrations, have been steadily disappearing for the past 20 years. Now, Monsanto says it wants to help turn the tide. Can the seed and pesticide giant seen by many as responsible for the monarchs’ decline make a difference for these pollinators? Or will its next batch of genetically engineered (GE) crops make matters worse? Read more

New Science Confirms: If You Eat Organic You’ll be Exposed to Fewer Pesticides

The recent debate over organic food has focused largely on nutrition. But the question of whether organic is better for you than food grown conventionally might have at least as much to do with pesticide exposure as nutrient value.

Or that’s been the theory held by many organic advocates. And while it might seem obvious that eating organic food is a good way to avoid eating pesticides, there hasn’t been a great deal of science to prove it—until now. Read more

The Future Strawberry: Will the Loss of a Major Pesticide Help the Industry to Go Green?

When it comes to growing strawberries, Farm Fuel, Inc., a Watsonville, California-based company, is on the cutting edge.

The company grows wild and domesticated mustard and lightly processes the harvest into mustard meal, a soil amendment. They also work with farmers on a technique called Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD). This precise farming technique involves applying a combination of water and carbon-rich material (think rice bran, grape pomace, mustard meal, and molasses), and then wrapping the soil in plastic. Under the plastic, the ingredients combine to create anaerobic conditions.

The idea with both of these approaches is to kill the organisms that cause the long list of diseases that plague strawberry farmers–without pesticides or fumigants (a form of pesticide that treats the soil before anything is even planted). Why the search for alternatives? Read more