Healthy Farms, Healthy Families

INVESTING IN SMART, HEALTHY FARMING — Most modern farms are far too reliant on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that can stay on our food or drain into and pollute our drinking water. It's time to implement low-chemical farming practices, and protect our health and environment.

If you are like most Americans, when you go grocery shopping, you’re probably focused on choosing healthy, tasty food for you and your family, at a good price. You might also be among the growing number of people who are , or just paying more attention to how your food is raised and grown. 

Unless you’re a farmer, you probably aren’t paying too much attention to the complex and, in many ways, miraculous agricultural system behind all that abundance and variety — a system that provides enough food to feed hundreds of millions of Americans, and many more around the world. 

But it’s also a system that has profound implications for our health and a huge impact on our environment. And if we don’t act soon to improve it, the decisions we make in the coming years could affect the food we eat and the water we drink for decades to come. 

OUR FARMS ARE TOO RELIANT ON CHEMICALS 

There is a growing body of evidence, including some research done by farmers and scientists at , that suggests we can dramatically reduce the use of some synthetic chemicals while still growing as much food as we do now — and maybe more.

Why is that such a big deal? Most modern farms have become far too reliant on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. These chemicals can stay on our food or drain into and pollute our drinking water, and have been linked to all kinds of problems:

  • American farms used nearly 900 million pounds of pesticides , and chief among them is glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The chemicals in Roundup have been linked to and other health problems, and are showing up in our .
  • Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide used on many fruits and vegetables, which on the produce when it’s bought at the grocery store. that almost 90 percent of women of childbearing age have traces of chlorpyrifos in them, and the insecticide has been shown to cause . 
  • Runoff from farming fields can find its way into our drinking water. Nitrate runoff can be especially harmful to infants, according to , and is linked to “blue baby syndrome” because the babies have difficulty transporting oxygen.

WE'RE SUBSIDIZING THIS CHEMICAL OVERUSE

Every year, the U.S. government spends on subsidies for insurance on crops like corn, wheat, and soybeans. These heavy subsidies incentivize farmers to plant the same crop year after year.

However, planting the same crops over and over again drains the soil of nutrients, and farmers must rely more and more on fertilizers to replenish the soil, and on pesticides to keep weeds, insects and more from flourishing, in order to ensure a successful harvest. This increased chemical use puts our food, our drinking water and the health of our families at risk.

But many farmers and researchers agree we can grow as much food as we do now, without relying so heavily on chemicals. In one study done over the course of 13 years , farmers and researchers were able to reduce the use of herbicides by 88 percent by using diverse crop rotations. And those researchers believe there is a realistic possibility these systems could be expanded to a larger scale in order to “greatly reduce the need for fossil fuels, chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, without sacrificing yields or profitability.”  

These techniques aren’t borne out of some new, untested technology either. As an author of the study , “these were simple changes patterned after those used by North American farmers for generations. What we found was that if you don’t hold the natural forces back they are going to work for you.

WE HAVE THE TOOLS FOR HEALTHIER FARMS

Shouldn’t our tax dollars be invested in the best farming practices? Practices that not only grow all the food we need, but protect our health and the environment at the same time?  

Implementing these changes will be crucial to protecting our health and the safety of our food and drinking water. That’s why we’re building a wide coalition of concerned citizens, farmers, health professionals, and anyone who’s concerned about the health and safety of the food they feed their family or the water they drink. We’ll be in the cities that rely on the food we grow, and the farming communities that are most directly affected by the use of these chemicals. 

Together, we can spread the word so our decision makers know that people are paying attention, and that they want our policies to support healthy farms, and healthy families. 


Image credits, from top: , , 

Issue updates

News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Statement: California bans brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos

In a major victory for California families,state officials they will prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide linked to permanent brain damage in young children.Gov. Newsom also announced funding to help farmers transition to safer alternatives. The process is expected to take from six months to two years.

 

With this decision, California becomes the third state to ban chlorpyrifos, following Hawaii and New York. This is also the first time the Golden State canceled the registration of a currently-used pesticide.

 

> READ MORE
News Release | Travel Buddy | Public Health

“End the Nicotine Trap” campaign urges FDA to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Given the rapid rise of e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping, among young people the consumer advocacy group Travel Buddy is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict youth access and appeal of these products.

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News Release | US PIRG | Public Health

US PIRG Submits 17,000 Petitions to EPA in Support of Life-Saving Mercury Air Standards

This week, Travel Buddy submitted 17,000 petitions to the EPA in support of the life-saving Mercury Air Toxics standards (MATs rule), a rule that the EPA proposes to suspend.

> READ MORE
News Release | Travel Buddy Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Food

Statement: CDC finds E. coli outbreak caused by tainted ground beef

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it suspects ground beef caused an outbreak of E. coli-induced infections that has sickened more than 100 people in six states.

> READ MORE

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Statement: California bans brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos

In a major victory for California families,state officials they will prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide linked to permanent brain damage in young children.Gov. Newsom also announced funding to help farmers transition to safer alternatives. The process is expected to take from six months to two years.

 

With this decision, California becomes the third state to ban chlorpyrifos, following Hawaii and New York. This is also the first time the Golden State canceled the registration of a currently-used pesticide.

 

> READ MORE
News Release | Travel Buddy | Public Health

“End the Nicotine Trap” campaign urges FDA to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Given the rapid rise of e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping, among young people the consumer advocacy group Travel Buddy is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict youth access and appeal of these products.

> READ MORE
News Release | US PIRG | Public Health

US PIRG Submits 17,000 Petitions to EPA in Support of Life-Saving Mercury Air Standards

This week, Travel Buddy submitted 17,000 petitions to the EPA in support of the life-saving Mercury Air Toxics standards (MATs rule), a rule that the EPA proposes to suspend.

> READ MORE
News Release | Travel Buddy Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Food

Statement: CDC finds E. coli outbreak caused by tainted ground beef

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it suspects ground beef caused an outbreak of E. coli-induced infections that has sickened more than 100 people in six states.

> READ MORE

Pages

Report | Travel Buddy Education Fund | Public Health

Kiss Off: A Consumer's Guide To Saying No To Toxic Lip Products

Lip products are used by most Americans every day. In fact, 81 percent of women and 39 percent of men use lipstick or lip balm products. Unfortunately, the ingredients in these products are barely regulated, and many major brands use toxic chemicals in these products.

> READ MORE
Report | Travel Buddy Education Fund | Food

Reaping What We Sow

Shaped by modern technologies, financial influences and public policy, American agriculture has evolved into an efficient system that produces all the food the country needs and more. However, in addition to the benefits that our food system offers, the shift to larger and more specialized farms has damaged public health and the environment. This damage is avoidable. Now is the time to reform agricultural practices to better protect public health, the environment, and our future ability to grow food.

> READ MORE
Report | Travel Buddy Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction III

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that 14 out of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the production of the chicken they serve, up from nine just one year ago. While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups who authored the report found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

> READ MORE
Report | Travel Buddy Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center | Public Health

Get the Lead Out

Our children need safe drinking water — especially at school where they go to learn and play each day. Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country. That’s why we’re working to Get the Lead Out.

> READ MORE
Report | Travel Buddy Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Getting Personal with Chemicals

We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially the ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. However, we looked into common ingredients in popular personal care products, and found that when we use these products, like shampoo, baby wipes, deodorant, shaving gel, or perfume, we are often dosing our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental problems, cause cancer, and more.

This consumer guide describes the results of our investigation of 10 popular personal care products that contain chemicals of concern.

> READ MORE

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News Post | Food, Higher Ed

Travel Buddy Zero Hunger Campaign: Fall Semester in Review

U.S.PIRG believes that no one should go hungry when we produce more than enough food already to feed everyone, and waste 40% of it. So, together with dozens of campuses with student PIRG chapters around the country we launched our Zero Hunger campaign last year to end hunger. 

> READ MORE
News Post | Public Health

Which stores make the grade for getting toxic chemicals off the shelves?

Out of the 40 largest retailers in North America, 19 lack any public policy to address toxic chemicals in the products found on their shelves.

> READ MORE
News Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Ten year anniversary of safer school supplies: Happy Birthday, CPSIA! | Kara Cook-Schultz

Landmark consumer legislation has had a monumental effect on protecting kids’ health.

> READ MORE
News Post | Public Health

We Support HHS Efforts To Rein In Abusive PBM & Big Pharma Practices That Keep Rx Prices Too High | Ed Mierzwinski

In response to a Request for Information from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to comment on its "Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs", we joined Consumers Union and other leading groups in a comment letter. In particular, we detail ways to rein in abusive and anti-competitive practices of both Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and Big Pharma's brand name drug companies that force American consumers to pay too much for health care. Our comments support many of the proposals from Secretary Azar and HHS.

> READ MORE
News Post | Food

Is This The Start Of A Sustainable Farming Revolution? | Kara Cook-Schultz

In 2003, Sikkim began to aggressively phase out the use of pesticides on every farm in the state. Now, 15 years later, officials say the switch to all-organic agriculture has improved the health of residents, and of the region’s ecosystem.

> READ MORE

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News Release | The Public Interest Network

The 2019 hurricane season officially gets underway tomorrow (June 1) with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  this year. On the heels of the devastating  and  in 2018,  (which includes Travel Buddy, , and state groups in often-impacted states such as   ,  and ) is sharing information to help contextualize the major environmental, health and consumer concerns posed by the hurricanes that will inevitably come this season.

News Release | Travel Buddy

Maryland's updated "Keep Antibiotics Effective Act" becomes law

News Release | Travel Buddy

U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Tim Kaine introduced the Tobacco-Free Youth Act, which would raise the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 years old. Matt Wellington, End the Nicotine Trap Campaign Director, responded with a statement. 

News Release | Travel Buddy

Travel Buddy statement in response to the lawsuit filed against Juul by North Carolina's attorney general. The lawsuit alleges that Juul marketed its products to youth, while downplaying both the health risks of the products and the strength of the nicotine in them. 

News Release | US PIRG

A state jury in Oakland that the use of Roundup by a California couple for residential landscaping over a 30 year period was a “substantial factor” that led to them developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Food | Travel Buddy

We've endorsed the Campus Hunger Reduction Act of 2019

No student should go hungry in our world of abundance. Our Zero Hunger campaign is recruiting campus administrators to make public commitments to achieving zero hunger by cutting waste.

 

Public Health | Travel Buddy

End the nicotine trap

In 2018, 1 in 5 high school students vaped, which often delivers a highly addictive dose of nicotine. This has damaging consequences for their future and their health.

 

Public Health | Travel Buddy

Glyphosate in beer and wine

Research shows that beer and wine are contaminated with glyphosate, the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.

 

Public Health

How safe is our food?

Our latest report examines recent food safety trends, case studies of national recalls, what they mean for our health, and what we should do about it. 

 
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