Downwind: Big Ag at Your Door

Photo Courtesy of Roger Smith via Flickr.


By Clare Howard

BLACHLY, Ore.  — Dan and Maya Gee left the congestion and pollution of Chicago, hungering for a cleaner life. They began an organic farming operation in the Oregon Coast Range, an area west of Eugene noted for its spectacular beauty and rugged mountains, towering Douglas fir and Sitka spruce.

The couple fell in love with what they thought was pristine countryside, far removed from pollution and industry. They built a home combining handcrafted artistry and untreated natural building materials. In this temperate climate, they work outside almost year-round.

But over the last half-dozen years, the Gees and their neighbors in the Triangle Lake area, fellow urban transplants, say they have all developed chronic health problems.  Unexplained bouts of vomiting, severe headaches, respiratory problems, joint pain and extreme muscle weakness have affected everyone. The women’s menstrual periods have become erratic.

For years, they suspected herbicides were to blame.  Big lumber companies apply the chemicals by helicopter and ground applicators on clear-cut timberland over the mountainsides, often spraying right up to their property lines. Helicopter blades create enough air turbulence to blow a chemical fog over nearby property. One farmer lost his entire fruit orchard. Another lost hundreds of blueberry bushes. Day Owen, a neighbor of the Gees in the Triangle Lake area, said a ground applicator sprayed pesticides right up to the grounds of the Triangle Lake School, 60 feet from classroom windows.

And for years, state health and environmental agencies have dismissed residents’ concerns as groundless, saying there is no evidence linking these herbicide applications to health problems.

Now, through independent scientific analysis, the Gees and more than 30 of their neighbors have documented two herbicides linked to cancer and birth defects, atrazine and 2,4-D, in their own bodies at alarmingly high levels. And they are demanding answers.

A urinalysis test done at a lab in April measured atrazine, an endocrine disrupting chemical, at 41.1 parts per billion in Eron King, a 37-year-old farmer who moved here from Eugene, Oregon. That’s 1,370 percent higher than the average of 3 parts per billion considered safe in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. No safe threshold has been established for atrazine or 2,4-D in humans. Dan Gee’s April urinalysis results showed 31.7 parts per billion of 2,4-D, one of the chemicals in Agent Orange. The EPA maximum contamination level for 2,4-D in drinking water is 70 parts per billion.

The effects of low-level exposure are unknown, but high exposure is linked to kidney, liver and adrenal gland damage.  Every urine sample taken from 23 residents of Triangle Lake in January and from 34 in April was positive for both herbicides.

The results are startling enough that federal and state officials have descended on the area and are running another set of urinalysis tests, while the farmers have organized themselves into a movement they are calling the “Pitchfork Rebellion.”

Frustrated by years of government inaction, they are conducting independent scientific analysis, and producing proof that is startling and disturbing about the chemicals they–and millions of Americans–unwittingly ingest, inhale and absorb every day. These chemicals are neurotoxins, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, with evidence mounting that exposures today cause damage at least four generations into the future.

Day Owen’s organic farm. / Photo by David Zalaznik

New research is leading growing numbers of scientists and physicians to challenge conventional wisdom about what is safe when it comes to pesticides and pesticide drift. Through research and litigation, they are also characterizing pesticide spillover as a form of trespass, willful negligence and property damage. And people objecting to drift are turning to expensive scientific analysis to bolster their objections, because this kind of testing is not routinely done.

However alarming the Oregon results appear, they are likely only a hint of what similar testing in the Midwest would show. One scientist who has studied atrazine extensively said she would expect urinalysis testing during key periods in the Midwest would show similar or higher levels, because most of the 76 million pounds of atrazine used in this country each year fall over the corn belt.

Dr. Jill Carnahan grew up in Central Illinois, where, she says, she was exposed to atrazine from a young age. In medical school, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  “There is no question in my mind,” Carnahan said, that the exposure “is linked to my early breast cancer.”

Now practicing in Colorado, Carnahan called current levels of chemical exposures “terrifying.” She explains to her patients what atrazine and other endocrine disrupting chemicals are and how to avoid them.

A recent study by the Institute of Medicine was widely reported to have found few links between environmental factors and breast cancer. Still, it warned women to avoid exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals that may be linked to breast cancer.   While these links have not been definitely proven, the report calls them “provocative” and says they warrant further study.   The report states childhood cancers, such as leukemia and brain tumors, have been linked to prenatal exposures to pesticides.

“Strong evidence indicates that aspects of fetal growth, such as birth weight, are associated with breast cancer risk as an adult,” the report states.

It also appears that atrazine persists in the body long after exposure ends. A study published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives found atrazine in the urine of 40 percent of 579 pregnant women in France, nearly a decade after atrazine was banned in that country. Birth weight, birth length and head circumference all were lower in babies of women with atrazine in their urine.

It’s Raining Atrazine

No one, rural or urban, is untouched by chemical drift.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 89 to 100 percent of fetuses in the United States are exposed to pesticides in utero and 95 percent of the population has measurable pesticide metabolites in their urine. Atrazine vaporizes and returns to Earth in rain, snow and fog. It has been found above the Arctic Circle. When it rains on Michigan Avenue in Chicago or Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., it’s raining atrazine. One study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality found atrazine in the rain in Iowa at 154 parts per billion, well above levels of 3 parts per billion established by the EPA as the average level for safety in drinking water.

There are more than 86,000 chemicals on the market today, and only 1 to 2 percent has been tested for health effects.

“Nearly every chemical ends up in someone, and certain classes of chemicals (such as) PCBs, flame retardants, dioxins, DDT, Teflon, perchlorate, lead, mercury and pesticides are found in virtually everyone,” said Dr. Paul Winchester, of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Director of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, Winchester noted an inordinately high number of birth defects among newborns in the hospital when he first joined the staff. He found no plausible explanation, so he designed a study.  He correlated 30.11 million births nationwide between 1996 and 2002 with birth defects diagnosed in the first days of life. In a paper published in Acta Paediatrica, a peer reviewed journal, Winchester reported disproportionately high rates of birth defects for children conceived between April and July, the peak period of atrazine  applications.

“The positive correlation was so strong I couldn’t believe it,” Winchester said. “This study is one of the most shocking things on the planet. It’s frightening to me.”

In another study, Winchester measured the school performance of 1.6 million children in Indiana in grades 3 through 10 and found significantly lower scores on statewide standardized tests in math and language for children conceived in months of peak pesticide and nitrate use.

“Women have not given consent to become toxic waste dumps,” he said.

To further test links between in utero pesticide exposure and the ability to learn, Dr. Warren Porter, a professor of environmental toxicology at University of Wisconsin, devised an experiment using laboratory mice exposed to the pesticide chlorpyrifos at levels comparable to what humans encounter in the environment. He found female mice whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy were significantly slower learns, but male mice from the same mothers were unaffected – a difference he thinks may be linked to the males’ higher level of  liver-detoxifying enzymes.

Dr. Tim Pastoor, principal scientist and toxicologist with Syngenta, the major manufacturer of atrazine in the United States, said atrazine has withstood the scrutiny of multiple reviews by the EPA and always been found safe. He said the results correlating atrazine use in the spring with inordinately high rates of birth defects could be duplicated by correlating   spring tornadoes or lightning strikes during months of conception to higher rates of birth defects, and he contends states with highest atrazine use actually had lowest birth defects.   He called the EPA 3 parts per billion safety threshold for atrazine in drinking water “extremely conservative.”

Winchester disputes Pastoor’s contention that areas with high atrazine use had the lowest birth defects. He found that counties with high pesticide use had higher birth defects. Nearly every category of birth defects increased, and 11 of 22 categories had statistically significant increases. His research showed that counties with lower pesticide use had lower rates of birth defects.

Neila Owen enters the pen where she milks her goats. / Photo by David Zalaznik

Triangle Lake, Oregon

On a mild autumn afternoon, Dan Gee pointed across his farm field at the picturesque Coast Range beyond and described how nightly fog forms and settles in his valley, sometimes lingering until late morning.  Since moving to the Triangle Lake area in 2006, the Gees have come to think of this fog as toxic, laced with atrazine and 2,4-D  —  herbicides never tested in combination by the EPA for long-term, chronic health effects.

“These mountains are soaked in toxins, said Maya Gee, 35, an artist. “I can smell chemicals in the fog. It’s like the earth perspiring and giving off its toxins.”

Gee, 38, said he and his wife can taste a metallic, chemical flavor in their mouths. The couple wants to start a family, but they don’t know the implications caused by these toxins in their bodies at such high concentrations.

“We eat organic. We built our home using the best cleanest materials, and here we are with 2,4-D and atrazine in our urine,” Maya Gee said. “We’re organic farmers. We’re always working outside. We tested our water. No chemicals. We tested our soil. No toxins. So where is our exposure? Air.”

Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor. These chemicals alter hormones regulating virtually every organ of the body, from the brain to the ovaries and prostate. The growing level of endocrine disruptors in the environment has led Dr. Theo Colborn, founder and president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a non-profit organization that studies endocrine disruptors, to conclude that these chemicals will prove more devastating for our planet than global climate change.

Colborn cites research showing that endocrine disruptors are linked to cancer, autism, asthma, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD among a growing list of illnesses. Endocrine disrupting chemicals, including atrazine,  that affect the hippocampus are the ones Colborn worries about the most because they affect the ability to love, parent, bond, communicate and process information.

Dr. Tyrone Hayes, an endocrinologist at University of California, Berkeley, has shown that exposure to even low levels of atrazine produced hermaphroditic demasculinized frogs with low levels of testosterone. He found male frogs with viable eggs that are actually fertilized by other males.

Truly independent studies of the effects of atrazine are countered by research sponsored by the pesticide industry, which consistently affirms the safety of pesticides. Dr. Jason Rohr, an integrative biologist at University of South Florida, analyzed an industry-funded review of the effects of atrazine on fish and frogs and concluded that more than 50 studies were misrepresented,  with  122 inaccurate and 22 misleading statements, of which 96 percent made atrazine appear less dangerous.

That has left atrazine’s victims to essentially go after the truth on their own. Day Owen, a former health food store owner, who moved to the area to farm organically, began the Pitchfork Rebellion to get answers.

Owen contacted Dr. Dana Barr, a research professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and formerly a toxicologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  He asked her about urinalysis testing. Barr agreed to pay for the testing out of her own budget, and run results for samples taken in January and April. Results showed alarmingly high levels of atrazine and 2,4-D in every person, including children.

Responding to emailed questions, Barr indicated she was surprised by the findings.  The urinalysis findings, Barr told the Oregon Forestry Board, suggest these toxins may be stored in fat tissue in the body long after exposure.

Eron King and Day Owen are alarmed by drift from chemicals sprayed on nearby farms. / Photo by David Zalanik

“When we moved here we were expecting a natural paradise, but almost from the beginning we started to hear horror stories of aerial spraying and sick children,” said Owen, 53.

After being exposed to chemical spraying, Owen and his wife Neila, 50, have come down with intense headaches, cramps, vomiting, muscle weakness, joint pain and fatigue. They fear those are only the short-term reactions and that there may be long-term repercussions.

Eron King, the farmer, is concerned enough that she documents the pesticide spraying by racing to nearby mountain positions and videotaping plumes of chemicals billowing from helicopters  —  clearly showing pesticides drifting from the targeted site. She recently suffered a miscarriage and is worried about her two sons’ exposure. Both children, ages 6 and 11, tested positive for atrazine and 2,4-D in their urine.

Reviewing the urinalysis results for six of the residents of the Triangle Lake region who were tested, Porter said, “These levels have profound implications for short-term and long-term health.”

Dr. Margaret Reeves, a senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network in San Francisco, a non-profit group that opposes the use of chemical pesticides, also reviewed the analysis results and said, “This raises a huge alarm.”  The individual pesticides, she said, have “incredible endocrine disrupting effects ” In combination,, they become even more potent.

Reeves said the Triangle Lake urinalysis results clearly indicate that the CDC needs to go back and do more atrazine testing. Its 2009 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, based on data from 1999-2002, found no detectable levels of atrazine. Reeves said an important flaw in the government’s collection of data for the survey is a failure to indicate when and where the testing is done.

Atrazine levels in the environment peak during key months of application, April through July, and failure to collect during those months would miss the period of high exposures altogether and deliver a misleading conclusion. Additionally, testing locations should be identified based on economic activities in the region such as farming or industry.

Winchester has long contended that finding no levels of atrazine flies in the face of reason, because it is one of the most widely used pesticides in the country. When the CDC issued its 2006 survey reporting no significant levels of atrazine in the population as a whole, Winchester called the CDC and questioned the finding. He learned the survey had been conducted checking for just one of 11 atrazine metabolites. His call prompted the researcher, Barr, to conduct a follow-up study with 24 people tested for a full spectrum of atrazine metabolites.  She found metabolites in almost every person and concluded the presence of atrazine in the human population has been significantly underestimated.


Metabolites are sometimes called break-down products. As chemicals, food or drugs are broken down in the body or in the environment, they form metabolites. In the case of atrazine, the herbicide is broken down into 11 metabolites, some of which are as toxic as the complete formulation.[

Winchester believes that if testing were done for atrazine metabolites, between 70 and 90 percent of the population would have measurable levels.

He said while the EPA has established what it considers safe levels of atrazine in drinking water, it has not determined what, if any, level could be considered safe in the human body, and the EPA does no evaluation of the herbicide’s potential tie to birth defects or to the body’s delicate endocrine system.

“The EPA is not adequately testing for neurological, endocrine, developmental, immune or epigenetic damage,”  Porter said. “This is unconscionable to me because it means we are experimenting with our fetuses and our children without their consent.”

In evaluating the health impact of pesticide and chemical exposures, Winchester said, “Prevention is the only rational place to be.”

Pesticide exposure for children can cause more severe damage because the liver, the body’s primary mechanism for filtering out toxins, has not reached its full potential, said Porter, the University of Wisconsin professor. “Fetuses and children have fewer defenses,” he noted. “The immune system is relatively incomplete at birth.”

He has found atrazine lowers immunity, opening the door to a host of long-term chronic complications. The links are difficult to prove, however, because there is often a lengthy period between exposure and diagnosis. Almost counter-intuitively, Porter and other scientists are now suspecting long-term, low-level exposures may prove more damaging to human health than brief high-dose hits.

Porter said EPA testing and safety levels for atrazine are wildly off the mark. They consider exposure safe at 3 parts per billion in drinking water, but the human endocrine system operates at parts per trillion– 1,000 times lower than EPA benchmark levels. It is at parts per trillion in the human body that compounds trigger endocrine activity, Porter said.

Clear-cut timberland by Triangle Lake in Blachly, Oregon. Following the timber harvest, these mountains are often treated with atrazine and 2,4-D. / Photo by David Zalaznik

Dr. Suzanne Fenton, a toxicologist with the National Institutes of Health, also reviewed the Triangle Lake urinalysis results. Fenton said she would expect levels of atrazine in residents of the Midwest to run equal to or higher than those in Oregon.

While water companies are required to test for atrazine, they are not required to test for all the metabolites, which can cause the same health problems as atrazine.  Fenton has tested water samples and found atrazine at the 3 parts per billion considered safe by the EPA, but levels of atrazine metabolites at up to 25 parts per billion. She said testing should look for a mixture of metabolites.

Fenton has studied the effects of atrazine and other pesticides on mammary glands and said all pregnant and lactating women, as well as adolescents who have not yet reached puberty, should be warned about potential sources of exposure by health education teachers, pediatricians, obstetricians, lactation consultants and midwives. She would like to see medical schools teach about the risks of cancer, infertility, inflammatory disease and miscarriage caused by exposure to pesticides during critical periods of growth.

“There should be continuing education courses for obstetricians and pediatricians on endocrine disrupting chemicals,” she said. “We have to protect our children. Protect them in utero. The risk for women with breast cancer is 10 to 20 percent inherited and up to 90 percent environment and lifestyle.”

In assessing the health risks of atrazine, EPA practices tend to undermine the impact of independent  researchers.  The government conducts its risk assessment for chemicals based on “weight of evidence.” When academic scientists generate reports based on sound science, the impact can be diluted by reports generated by industry interested in keeping pesticides on the market with few restrictions.

Chemical makers have also turned to the Freedom of Information Act, in what independent researchers contend is an effort to keep academic and government scientists tied up. A FOIA request was served on Dr. Fenton’s lab by Syngenta virtually halted work, shifting all effort from research to complying with the FOIA request.

In the Triangle Lake area, another round of urinalysis testing and environmental testing is underway involving dozens of scientists in federal and state agencies. Bruce Pokarney, spokesman with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Pesticide Analytical Response Center, said an investigation of this size and focus has never before been undertaken in the state. The agencies are reviewing new data and are expected to issue a joint report in the coming months.

>>> Read Part 2 – Pitchfork Rebels: Organic Farmers Take on Big Ag

Update: In an e-mail following publication, Syngenta called atrazine “one of the most carefully examined herbicides in the world,” and said that, “Its safety has been clearly established by more than 6,000 scientific studies conducted over the past 50 years.” The company dismissed the research cited in the article as “unproven science and scare tactics.” Read the full Syngenta Response.

Top photo: A crop duster spraying for weeds. / Courtesy of Roger Smith.

This article was made possible with a George Polk Investigative Reporting grant funded by the Ford Foundation.

Clare Howard

Clare Howard

Clare Howard, a member of 100 Reporters, worked at the Journal Star in Peoria, IL for 24 years and won numerous awards. She focuses on issues of justice, equality, and basic human rights in the areas of food, economic development, childhood lead poisoning and living with HIV/AIDS.


  1. Your style is so unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark
    this blog.

  2. Con-trails, Aluminum Foil in Your Cap, Pesticide Poisoning, Herbicide Poisoning, World Trade Towers were brought down by our Government.Do you people ever have any peace of mind?


    Even in Green Oregon….one of my favorite places, corporate greed/welfare trumps human well being.  

  4. Thank you Clare for a terrific article!  Some day maybe it will occur to the defenders of the sins if 
    Syngenta that they too have grandchildren.  This willingness to sacrifice the health of kids on the alter of Mammon is a sad commentary on values.  How can anyone possibly think it’s OK to subject ourselves, our pets, and our environment to an increasing onslaught of newly created complex chemicals (and GMO’s), and wait to see what happens… all the while defying the public to put a stop to it?  There are two fundamental roles of government: national defense (by that I mean protection of public and environmental health); and backing the largest swine away from the public trough.  Our government is falling well short of the mark in either of these important areas.  It’s well known that organic agriculture is far healthier, and now with the growing realization that it is also more efficient… this should give a hint where ag subsidies belong.  Do we need an “Occupy farm fields” movement…?

  5. Our children will someday ask why we allowed 97% of Midwestern water supplies to be contaminated by a powerful endocrine disruptor.  What will we say?  That we naively believed the chemical companies’ “studies” — even as they were laughing all the way to the bank?  That we had forgotten about crop rotations and cultivation techniques that require no chemical assistance?  That we were lazy and complacent?  Thank you Clare for your important wake-up call, and brave reporting. 

  6. We would not want to have more regulations, would we? We can trust the corporations to do the right thing, can’t we?
    You can go to any hardware store, garden suppy store, etc. and get this stuff-2,4D; 2,4,5T and spray it on your lawns so the kids have a nice place to play. Read the labels! What do you think agent orange was composed of?

  7. Clare Howards’s recent article “Downwind” Big
    Ag at Your Door” highlights recent urine analysis and impacts of the herbicide
    atrazine in residents in rural Oregon. It is reported that atrazine as high as  41.1 parts per billion (ppb) was detected in urine,
    that is “1,370 percent higher than the average of 3 parts per billion
    considered safe in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    (EPA).”  These current real-world exposures
    in humans are shocking and must not be ignored or swept under the rug,
    regardless of industry propaganda.

    Atrazine has been banned in Europe since 2003
    for good reason. Atrazine is ubiquitous and causes unpreventable water contamination and has made its
    way into surface, ground and drinking waters in many communities in the U.S. Does
    Europe care more about its citizens’ than the U.S. does? Regardless of industry
    opinion, available data derived from multiple, independent, peer-reviewed data
    is clear that atrazine is dangerous for wildlife and human health. Atrazine is
    a potent endocrine disruptor. EPA agrees and has stated that atrazine’s effects
    on hormone levels will continue to be used as the basis for atrazine risk
    assessments because this effect continues to be the most sensitive.


     A major
    cause for concern is that atrazine, even at smaller levels than those detected
    in these Oregon residents highlighted by Ms. Howard, can cause adverse health
    effects, including birth defects. One Indiana study finds women’s exposure to atrazine in
    drinking water (>0.1ppb) during pregnancy was associated with a significant
    increase in the prevalence of infants born ‘small-for-gestational-age.’ Maternal
    exposure to surface water atrazine is also observed to be associated with fetal
    gastroschisis, particularly in spring conceptions, and occurs more frequently
    among those who reside <25 km from atrazine application sites.

    Similarly, a 2011 study, “Menstrual cycle characteristics and
    reproductive hormone levels in women exposed to atrazine in drinking water,”
    finds evidence that atrazine exposure, at levels below the EPA’s maximum
    concentration levels detected in drinking water is associated with increased
    menstrual cycle irregularity, longer follicular phases, and decreased levels of
    menstrual cycle in women 18-40 years old residing in agricultural communities
    where atrazine is used.


    The 2009 Natural Resource Defense
    Council (NRDC) report “Poisoning the Well,” which prompted EPA to begin a
    “special review” of atrazine, reports 97% of surface drinking water systems in midwestern
    states show atrazine contamination. 
    Forty watersheds tested show detectable levels of atrazine, and 25 had
    average concentrations above 1 ppb. Daily average levels in various parts of
    the county have been as high as 30-50ppb during the spring and summer months.
    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that in the spring, after the application of herbicides, the
    concentrations of atrazine and others are frequently 3-10 times greater than
    the maximum concentration levels set by EPA.

    At these levels, atrazine impacts
    hormone function in organisms and turns tadpoles into hermaphrodites –
    creatures with both male and female sexual characteristics. One USGS study, “Atrazine Reduces Reproduction in Fathead
    Minnow (Pimephales promelas),” finds that concentrations of atrazine
    commonly found in agricultural streams and rivers causes reduced reproduction
    and spawning, as well as tissue abnormalities in fish.


    Researchers at both the National
    Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and EPA show that male rats
    prenatally exposed to low doses of atrazine are more likely to develop prostate
    inflammation and to go through delayed puberty. Another NIEHS study finds that
    atrazine delayed mammary gland development. In fact similar research finds that
    atrazine alters the developing mammary gland, makes it susceptible to
    tumorigenesis or hyperplasia, and alters lactational ability.

    Atrazine is a potent endocrine
    disruptor that has the ability to alter sexual and reproductive functions, as
    well as cause birth defects. Little is being done by federal authorities to
    stop atrazine’s pervasive contamination of U.S. waters. Unless this is remedied
    by removing atrazine from the market, residents like those in rural Oregon and
    elsewhere will continue to suffer the ill-effects of atrazine exposures.


    The registration of pesticides like
    atrazine by EPA hides behind risk assessment calculations that allow for high
    levels of harm that are deemed “acceptable” by the agency. Pointing to an EPA
    pesticide registration as indicative of safety, as Syngenta does, fails to
    acknowledge the deficiencies in the regulatory evaluation process to consider the
    extremely important endocrine disruption endpoint, the high exposure patterns
    and body burden across the U.S., chronic low-dose exposure tied to timing of
    exposure, and other scientific questions important to safety. In this context
    of an incomplete regulatory framework with a high degree of uncertainty, the
    data calls for a precautionary approach to stop continued use of atrazine.
    Moreover, as the controversy rages, commercial organic agricultural systems
    have proven that atrazine is not necessary to grow our food and feed the world.

    Jay Feldman, Executive Director, Beyond Pesticides, Washington, DC

  8. Thank you Clare and David for your gifts of casting light into dark places.  I would love to hear a 3 minute “elevator” version of this. I think there is additional grant money available for “repackaging” stories to fit a range of media. Is that something that could happen?

  9. Thank you Clare and David for your gifts of casting light into dark places.  I would love to hear a 3 minute “elevator” version of this. I think there is additional grant money available for “repackaging” stories to fit a range of media. Is that something that could happen?

  10. The time has come to turn the tide. I believe there is a wave that is about to crash at Monsanto’s front door.

    French farmer wins case against Monsanto

    By Colleen Kimmett
    February 13, 2012 03:57 pm

    Monsanto has been found guilty of the chemical poisoning of a French farmer.
    Grain farmer Paul Francois said he began to suffer from neurological
    problems after inhaling Lasso, a Monsanto weedkiller, in 2004. He
    claimed Monsanto did not provide adequate warnings on the product’s
    label. The ruling came down from a court in Lyon, France, today,
    although damages have yet to be determined.
    Francois’ layer told Reuters
    that this is the first time a pesticide maker has been found guilty of
    such a poisoning, and could lend weight to similar claims.
    Monsanto said it was disappointed with the decision and would consider an appeal.
    France is targeting a 50 per cent reduction in pesticide use between
    2008 and 2018. Initial results show a four per cent cut in farm and
    non-farm pesticide use from 2008 to 2010.
    Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

    Filed in Food + Farming

  11. KMAC,
    I have never smoked pot, or taken any illegal/recreational drug. I don’t even consume alcohol… Yet I’ve been pesticide poisoned by direct application of Monitor, by an agpilot that saw me working in the field. That Ag pilot then strafed my house & children, dumping chemical on them, because I dared to complain. He also states that he’s mixed and sprayed these chemicals and they haven’t hurt him… Really? It seems to me that both of you suffer from aggressive tendencies, known pesticide reactions according to the environmental monographs of the ATSDR. You both also appear to share an extreme lack of conscience.

    Following that, I received retalitory spraying from several other belligerent pesticide users in the area. I now have no immune system, and am severally disabled due to pesticide poisoning. I will undoubtedly get no earthly justice, as judges are elected officials, and I reside in an agricultural area. But I will get eternal justice. When you stand before the Lord, how many murders will be on your soul? It doesn’t matter if you contributed one blow in an assault, or twenty. If the victem later dies, because of the assault, you will be held accountable as a murderer. It doesn’t matter if it takes 20 or longer years. God will know… You will be held accountable.

  12.  KMAC just because you say that you are a healthy 70 year old ag pilot doesn’t mean that you are.  You also seem angry which seems strange for a healthy 70 yr old??  It is quite possible that you are a selfish person who makes money off the indiscriminate use of poisons to solve problems that should be solved in other ways. 

  13. What I don’t understand is why the American public can’t launch a huge class action suit against either the government for allowing these toxic chemicals to be used, or the makers of the chemicals. It seems fairly clear that the link has been made between the chemicals and the health problems. If everyone in the country is affected, why can’t we all fight back and sue? One of the things that bothers me about stories like this is that there seems to be nothing we can do, and I don’t understand how we’ve got ourselves into this position, where citizens seem to have no rights. Don’t these farmers have the right to clean air and water? 

    • According to the laws on the books, we should have rights. Due to ignorance, prejudice, outright bigotry and greed, we are denied justice. Our expert witnesses are denied. Our evidence is refused admission. We are convicted or contempt of court, and politically minded lawyers refuse to represent us. I interviewed over 500 lawyers in Oregon… I was told, “I’d never get my case to court,” ” There’s no money in it.” “They don’t practice that kind of law.” and one woman lawyer who’d recently tried to defend a pesticide victem broke down into uncontrolled sobbing when I started to explain my case…Sounds like greed and self interest to me. Even though I had stacks of substantial evidence, the Judge through my case out claiming that I don’t meet the definition of disabled. He had to ignore the law, to do it. If I objected, I’d have been charged with contempt.

      Mine is not the only case to go this way. I know people that sold everything they owned to take it to their’s to the Supreme Court, only to be treated the same way. Justice has gone begging.

      • So, are we supposed to just accept that our country is a corrupt corporate plutocracy? It infuriates me! I wish the Occupy movement would explode into an all out revolution by the people. I am so sick of citizens being dumped on by corporations and corrupt government officials – not just the environment, but financially and in other ways too. It has GOT TO STOP. We need a REVOLUTION people!!! 

  14.  Wonderful
    reporting.  Thank you Clare.

    I was able to meet all of these good folks while attending the Town Hall held
    by the “investigative team”, in Blachly last July.  Josephine
    County is  plagued with helicopters as
    well, spraying our neighborhoods and next to our backyards. I’ve been pursuing
    this topic since Atrazine was sprayed last April by helicopter, 1. 5 miles from
    my home.  Close enough to hear it happening, I immediately wanted to research
    the topic, having no clue about ANY of this. It didn’t take rocket science to
    realize that the spraying of toxic chemical cocktails in residential
    neighborhoods, year after year after year is not good!  Plus they
    often switch chemicals each time they spray and often it is at least 2,
    sometimes 3 times per site. After reading the science, the studies galore plus
    scores and scores of available information and sites on these toxins AND their
    hazards, I drew one conclusion, we need to STOP them, before it’s too late. One
    rationale alone – the EU banned Atrazine in 2003, after years of complaints,
    because when it gets into the water supply, there is nothing that can get it
    out. France has been trying for 20 years. These helicopters travel over gullies
    and running water all the time. Which then flows into our creeks that feed into
    our rivers. It’s what water does, it flows downhill. When that happens these
    toxins can flow right along with the rain and the mud, and often do. They can also
    get into drinking wells, as happened in Lane County actually, sadly into the
    one at their children’s school.

    The science IS available, has been for years and the warnings are
    everywhere..Yet this industry and the likes of KMAC, their paid hack, deny
    it.  One question: IF these toxins are safe than why don’ they simply
    PROVE it ? Produce the studies that prove they are safe and all those hippie
    tree huggin pot smokin love lovin folks will shut up.  Do you really think
    they have nothing better to do?  Do you seriously take issue with them
    defending their lives and future of their kids?  What, they are suppose to
    suck it up and do nothing, to prevent the illnesses that come with these
    sprays?  The sprays that have been taking place in Oregon since the 70’s
    and A Bitter Fog.  Oregonians have been guinea pigs to these poisons for
    far too long. ENOUGH is ENOUGH and the people are saying as much. 
    These chemical cocktails are creating toxic soup bowls in neighborhoods.  That’s insane. Then folks wonder why their
    kids are always sick or the hacks play pure denial.  Lots of denial
    centered around this topic for sure. We are all in this bowl together, well
    unless you are KMAC who I’d venture to say lives in a city somewhere far
    removed. But one of the hacks who gets paid to pretend a whole lot, lie and
    twist the conversation and make those trying to defend themselves out to be the
    ‘bad guys’. Brilliant and Kudos dude, it works.  Until of course friends
    of those doing the spraying suddenly get sprayed themselves, in their
    backyard.  NOW, they too are paying attention and darn well finally now realize
    something is seriously wrong with this picture. That maybe those hippie tree
    huggers have been right.  Why WOULD companies knowingly drop toxic poisons
    next to where kids play or live?  Why near schools?  Why in
    residential neighborhoods?  Why would anyone even want or take the chance in
    using chemicals designed to kill around children, innocent children? Has that 1%
    GREED 1% lost its mind?

    KMAC and that ilk will soon be attempting to defend themselves. Dealing with
    the reactions that are inevitable, as the truth soon becomes unavoidable. Can’t
    pretend much longer that all is just swell. Funny thing about truth, it seems
    to find that crack in the sidewalk, that odd place to appear and take hold. Can
    you feel it? What are you going to say when asked what you were thinking? Or
    when you try to sell folks on the fact you didn’t’ know these deadly toxins
    were really poisonous or actually toxic or could hurt anyone, let alone
    children. Too much evidence is now flowing off the pages and pages worldwide
    from multiple sources referencing the dangers. 
    Yet the push for more chemicals designed to KILL in America is seriously
    strong and either too stupid to define or blatantly proves they could care
    less.. The unintended targets though are now speaking out.  Almost funny
    KMAC that you would call them names and attempt to insult or paint them as you
    will to fit your BS.  Again the question is simple —PROVE THEY ARE SAFE
    !  NO fair cheating though or trying to pass off those bogus studies you
    cling too, paid for by the very chemical companies themselves.  How about
    using the studies from Tyrone Hayes on Atrazine?  Oops, that study nails
    you.  Most studies actually nails these
    toxins so again, why exactly do folks chose to use them?   Can’t hide though from the many insights
    recently published regarding Syngenta’s $millions$, spent on PR and to cover up
    their false studies on their Atrazine. That almighty 1%, at it again. If only
    the 99% would wake up sooner to your BS, as they too become sick of it.

    When the toxins are directly connected, with zero doubt, to the use of their applications
    and fish go belly up, cows abort, chicks die, cats have multiple still born
    births, yet all where just fine and healthy before the sprays came,
    seriously??? You dare think you can continue to wrap some doubt around the
    personal testimony of just this ONE family and not from those hippies but from
    a family in the Illinois Valley. Not anywhere   near
    Blachly.  Now what?  The stories proving all was fine BEFORE the
    spraying and then suddenly all was hell after. You KNOW something is wrong with
    this picture, and all the denial or name calling in the world cannot and will
    not change that.  FACT: People are waking
    up and realizing they too are affected and have been from toxic chemical
    exposures and they too are now speaking out.

    Those who are paid to lie about this
    issue, or lie about the poisons / science or lie about the victims, will have
    to live with their choices, along with the legacy of genocide in Oregon’s
    forests for well over 30 years.

    • KNMAC, 

      The facts are the numerous cancers occur in much higher numbers for people who live and works with pesticides , such as farmers and golf course workers. Maybe you should count your blessings and buy a lottery ticket before your more than average level of luck is likely to soon run out. I personally knew two Vietnam Vets that died in their late 30’s from Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and both were exposed to agent orange which has been recognized as cancer producing and which has some of the same chemical components used in some of todays most commonly used pesticides.

  15. Well done Clare! Well done! Thank you for putting your talents toward exposing the lie of pesticide safety. Your George Polk grand was well-deserved.

  16. Why does all the crap start in Oregon and California?  There was a study done on 3 generations of Ag pilots and Ag related familys back in the late 70’s when the flap started on Agent orange.  That study was done because of hippies screaming the same crap as is in this article,  Miscarrages, Cancer, breathing problems, bad taste in mouths, etc, etc,  The summary of the study proved without doubt the people screaming the loudest should quit smoking the weed they were growing on public and private lands owned by others and marry someone in the Ag business if they really wanted a healthy family that had a long healthy life.  I am a 70 yr old Ag pilot that has been exposed daily to pure undiluted agent orange,24D, Atrizine, and hundreds of other chemicals and I nor anyone in my family including the third and 4th generations have any health problems.  Summary, Quit using your dope and contaminating your own bodys.  I might add while the testing is being done do some testing for weed, Meth, LSD, and what ever else is popular at this time on the street.  I am from Missouri so SHOW ME!

    • 70yr old, it is many in your generation that continue to influence regulation based on feelings and not facts. Your personal experiences do not dictate reality for your neighbors or community, you are bitter and for reasons no one really cares. In addition blaming everything on marijuana is a silly argument and makes you sound like quite a moron. 

    • KMAC – a sample of one (you) is too small to be meaningful.   There is always one person who like his Yugo and dot 700,000 miles out of it.  That’s not the real picture though.   

    • Hello KMAC . I too have just turned a healthy 70 and spent 20+ years as a Crop Duster/Aerial Applicator. Have a healthy daughter, will turn 48 this April. I agree with everything you say. Happily, I spent many an hour finding Marijuana and many more hours spraying it with Round-Up. You have to remember the dopers creed, “If you ain’t doping, you ain’t coping. Keep the pleasant memories of calm mornings and the last load at sunset.

    • Kmac, You have been very fortunate to not suffer any long term affects from your work. However, other people have, and perhaps it’s because they were on the ground being sprayed and not in a pressure controlled cabin. Or, maybe they are ALL full of crap, who knows. Weather or not you agree with the findings the fact is there is not enough unbiased research provided on this subject. People no longer trust their government, and perhaps it’s because they don’t take these claims more seriously and just bow down to big corporations- every time. These people aren’t just a bunch of hippies wearing tie-dye and smoking cannabis. These are concerned parents and small farmers. They are people who have watched their elderly neighbors die shortly after these chemical drifts, they are outraged citizens who feel their lands and bodies have been violated. Also, blaming cannabis for all the modern ailments of mankind is quite a far reach. Hemp is, after all, the oldest fiber weaved by man (rope, canvas, twine, clothes, etc)- it’s been around for a very long time. Also, nearly all the research so far on cannabis validates its medicinal uses, except maybe actually smoking it- but the way things are going I imagine most people will be getting it from a cookie or taking it in tinctures soon enough. Whereas, these pesticides are relatively new and so are the alarmingly climbing rates of cancer, autism, etc. Surely, that alone isn’t proof, but it does make me want to ask questions, and I’m not the only one. Thankfully…

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