The Politics of Infertility and Cancer

This article by Stacy Malkan, Huffington Post, 11/28/2017, is pretty shocking even by today’s standards. Some highlights:

Watch out for the Independent Women’s Forum, which despite its name is a front for right-wing causes supported by the Koch Brothers.

“Women can also benefit by ignoring “alarmist” concerns about toxic chemicals, according to an IWF lecture series sponsored by Monsanto.

“Moms who insist on organic food are arrogant, snobby “helicopter parents” who “need to be in control of everything when it comes to their kids, even the way food is grown and treated,” according to Julie Gunlock, director of IWF’s “Culture of Alarmism” project…”

One study cited shows that: “Glyphosate is a clear case of ‘regulatory capture’ by a corporation acting in its own financial interest while serious questions about public health remain in limbo. The record suggests that in 44 years—through eight presidential administrations—EPA management has never attempted to correct the problem. Indeed, the pesticide industry touts its forward-looking, modern technologies as it strives to keep its own research in the closet, and relies on questionable assumptions and outdated methods in regulatory toxicology.”

“The $800 billion chemical industry lavishes money on politicians and lobbies its way out of effective regulation. This has always been a problem, but now the Trump administration has gone so far as to choose chemical industry lobbyists to oversee environmental protections,” according to Nicholas Kristof.

The article presents many more examples of chemical industry malfeasance often covered up by its propaganda arms, sometimes with government collusion, but fortunately revealed by dedicated journalists and researchers.

The bottom line is no surprise: we must exercise constant vigilance and remain informed observers to protect ourselves and others.


Constant vigilance needed against dangerous chemicals

Who would sell products that could harm us? And safety regulations protect us, right? Answers: 1) People who want to make money and 2) Not as much as we might think.

Can someone sell you a recycled product that could blow up and kill you or contaminate you with toxins? Sure. Read “Empty industrial barrels bought on Craigslist present deadly dangers” by Rick Barrett at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/13/17.

Gasoline, other flammable chemicals, insecticides, and other toxins lurk in some used metal drums that can be bought online. At least 69 Americans have died from making such purchases in the past 15 years, according to the article.

Some of those dangerous chemicals are also lurking on the shelves of your local hardware store or maybe even in your own basement.

Read the labels, err on the side of caution, and don’t rely on someone else to warn you adequately or protect you and your family from harm.

New Year’s resolution: avoid dangerous chemicals!

Don’t Spray Me! Report for 2017

First, we got some good coverage in 2017 (as in 2016) in the Daily Local News. See “Area teens find organic solution for killing weeds in sidewalks,” 7/17/17, and “‘Don’t Spray Me!’ holds rally in West Chester,” 8/28/17.

Our 5-page report can be downloaded here: DSM report 2017 12-3-17. It includes the following topics:

Spraying, larviciding, and storm drains

West Chester got through another summer with no Chester County Health Department spraying, but East Bradford, Downingtown, Birmingham, Thornbury, and Spring City were not so fortunate. It was a difficult summer with heat and lots of rain and in some areas residents reported more mosquitoes than in 2016.

We would like to emphasize preventive measures and are pressing for more thorough-going inspection, repair, and larviciding of storm drains wherever they exist. We believe that storm drains and sluggish natural water in dry weather are now the main sources of mosquitoes here. We plan to continue to emphasize the Block Captain model in West Chester.

East Bradford report

Lots of progress coming from the town’s Environmental Advisory Council and municipal staff; and residents and homeowner associations started to be more active.

Other accomplishments and victories in 2017

– a March for the Environment, following speakers in the center of West Chester, with 250 people

– an experiment in which our “Sierra Club Youth Corps” of high school students showed that a non-toxic solution is effective in fighting weeds in brick sidewalks

– two celebratory community picnics in May and in September, with other local groups

– an environmental film series at West Chester University in the fall, emphasizing toxic chemicals

Goals for 2018

Work with municipalities and the County on community education.

Emphasize larviciding, the most effective form of mosquito control.

Understand better the Vector Index used as a guide to spraying by the County and work toward raised thresholds.

Institute an “Adopt a Storm Drain” program.

Start up new DSM chapters.

A new model of yard signs.

Programs: Jan. 21 environmental justice film, Feb. 25 panel on environmental and climate change, Earth Day gathering and march on Sunday April 22, summer community event, May and Sept. celebrations in Everhart Park, Green Lawns event in fall.

A summer intern helping implement outreach, mosquito control, and larviciding goals.

Travels with Charley, a smart dog

American novelist John Steinbeck was obviously a smart guy. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. That same year, he published “Travels with Charley,” an account of driving across the country and back with his faithful but sometimes ailing canine companion.

However, in one respect Charley acts smarter than the writer. Somewhere in Ohio, Steinbeck pulls the camper for the night into a place infested with flies. “For the first time i got out the bug bomb and sprayed heavily, and Charley broke into a sneezing attack so violent and prolonged that I had finally to carry him out in my arms. ” The same thing happened again in the morning. “I never saw such a severe allergy,” Steinbeck concludes.

Charley was smart enough to sense that he was being poisoned by a pesticide and he wanted out. That was in an era when elms were still being sprayed to try to save them from Dutch Elm Disease and kids ran along in the spray.

1962 was also the year that Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring.” If Steinbeck had had a chance to read that epoch-making warning about pesticides before writing “Travels with Charley,” he would have recognized a toxic chemical spray when he saw one. And if he had read Carson before his trip in 1960, he probably wouldn’t have sprayed around poor Charley at all. He did learn that on his own, though, because whenever he sprayed thereafter, “I had to close Charley out and air out the house or cab after the pests were dead.”

All that spraying probably wasn’t too good for Steinbeck either; he died in 1968 at the age of 66.

EPA to Consider Approving Spraying of Bee-killing Pesticide on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland

by Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, 12/19/17

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will consider allowing the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam to be sprayed on the most widely grown crops in the United States. The application, if approved, would allow the highly toxic pesticide to be sprayed directly on 165 million acres of wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice and potato.

The proposal by the agrochemical giant Syngenta to dramatically escalate use of the harmful neonicotinoid pesticide came last Friday, on the same day the EPA released new assessments of the extensive dangers posed by neonicotinoids, including thiamethoxam.

“If the EPA grants Syngenta’s wish, it will spur catastrophic declines of aquatic invertebrates and pollinator populations that are already in serious trouble,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. “You know the pesticide-approval process is broken when the EPA announces it will consider expanding the use of this dangerous pesticide on the same day its own scientists reveal that the chemical kills birds and aquatic invertebrates.”

Neonicotinoids have long been known to pose serious harm to bee populations. But the new EPA assessments found the commonly used pesticides can kill and harm birds of all sizes and pose significant dangers to aquatic invertebrates.

Thiamethoxam is currently widely used as a seed coating for these crops. This application would allow it to be sprayed directly on the crops, greatly increasing the amount of pesticide that could be used.

The just-released aquatic and non-pollinator risk assessment found that the majority of uses of the neonicotinoid on currently registered crops resulted in risks to freshwater invertebrates that exceeded levels of concern — the threshold at which harm is known to occur….

read more and see links at Center for Biological Diversity

Michael Dourson: A Toxic Choice for Our Health and Safety

by Genna Reed, science and policy analyst, Center for Science and Democracy, at Union of Concerned Scientists, October 19, 2017

Update (December 14, 2017): Michael Dourson has withdrawn his nomination to head the EPA’s division of chemical safety. Read the statement from UCS President Ken Kimmell, Dourson’s Withdrawal a Victory for Science, Health.

When it comes to conflicts of interest, few nominations can top that of Michael Dourson to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Time after time, Dourson has worked for industries and against the public interest, actively downplaying the risks of a series of chemicals and pushing for less stringent policies that threaten our safety.

In short, Dourson pushes counterfeit science, is unfit to protect us from dangerous chemicals, and is a toxic choice for our health and safety….

read more at at Union of Concerned Scientists to see how lucky we are not to have this chemical industry apologist in charge of regulating that very industry!

“The Wisdom to Survive”

blog by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 12/13/17

About 70 people gathered on Thursday evening December 7 to view “The Wisdom to Survive,” the final film of the fall in the West Chester University Environmental Sustainability Film Series in memory of Graham Hudgings.

The hour-long documentary at WCU’s new LEED gold-certified Business and Public Management Center was sponsored by Don’t Spray Me!, Sierra Club of Chester County, West Chester Food Co-op, WCU’s Office of Sustainability and Sustainability Advisory Council, the WCU Geography Club, and Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP).

Audience gathers for the film (Photo by Taka Nagai)

After snacks from the Food Co-op, a tour of the new LEED-certified building, and conversation over environmental exhibits, MC Sheila Burke introduced featured speaker Elizabeth Moro, Pennsbury resident and co-founder of Neighbors For Crebilly, which is striving to preserve the large farm south of West Chester as open space. A long-time supporter of environmental actions, Elizabeth was energized by the current political morass to the extent that she is running for the PA 7th U.S. Congressional seat.

Elizabeth explained that she grew up near Lake Huron, where she learned that “Mother Nature doesn’t negotiate – she’s in charge.” Humans used to work in harmony with nature, but now we need to get back to seeing the big picture that we are part of. Money is not a good way to evaluate importance. Try holding your breath, she told the group, and see at what point you’d rather draw a breath than collect money. She has helped raise funds to preserve part of the headwaters of the Brandywine near Honey Brook, Barnard’s Orchard in Pocopson, and now Crebilly Farm in Westtown.

She quoted Margaret Meade: ”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”…

read more of the introduction, film, and discussion at Politics: A View from West Chester

Very successful “Wisdom To Survive” evening

On December 7, about 70 people representing environmentally-oriented groups, West Chester University, and the broader public gathered at WCU’s new business building to view and discuss the film “The Wisdom To Survive.”

This fall Don’t Spray Me! has been moving out from our basic mosquito and pesticide mission to form alliances to counteract nefarious influences coming from our national and state capitals; we can all expect more local progress (and hope for wider progress) in 2018.

Do humans still have “The Wisdom To Survive”? The film brings out several of our most challenging imperatives: to reduce the use of fossil fuels, preserve sources of fresh water, protect food production from corporate aggrandizement, and attain a new (also old) harmony with our surroundings.

As featured speaker Elizabeth Moro aptly quoted, “Who owns the water when it reaches the land is the frog.”

Photos by Taka Nagai:


email from Environmental Working Group, 12/2/17

EWG wants to expand its work on pesticides in 2018 and we need your feedback.

Take EWG’s quick survey and tell us YOUR thoughts on pesticide use in the United States.

France just committed to banning the pesticide glyphosate, the main ingredient used in Monsanto’s Roundup, despite the opposition from multiple European countries that want to keep using this toxic pesticide. France plans to ban it in the next three years.

France took this step after glyphosate was declared a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.

In the U.S., Scott Pruitt and the Environmental Protection Agency are doing the opposite. They are kowtowing to Monsanto and the pesticide lobby – but EWG is not backing down. We are ramping up our advocacy work on toxic pesticides like glyphosate, chlorpyrifos and dicamba, and expanding our work on pesticides so that you can protect yourself and your family.

We are finalizing our program plans for 2018 and urgently need you to weigh in.

Should the U.S. follow France’s lead and pledge to ban glyphosate?

Thanks for your input,

Neonicotinoids: don’t use them!

Why should we not use neonicotinoid insecticides? Because they kill or weaken many beneficial species of insects, including bees. And without bees, we’ll have to do without a lot of fruits and vegetables. Bayer and other manufacturers may not care, but we do.

Friends of the Earth has provided a list of neonicotinoid insecticide brands so that you can to avoid them:

(From the download “A Guide to Saving Bees” at Friends of the Earth.)

It’s almost as if the manufacturers were trying to mask their lethal products under fancy names, isn’t it? Rather than reading microscopic labels or carrying the list around with you, just avoid using pesticides and herbicides. There are many natural ways to protect your flowers and vegetables.

But if you are willing to print and carry the list around, next time you’re in a hardware or garden store, check to see if these objectionable products are on the shelf, and if so, complain to the management!