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Peter Lehner's blog

A toxic herbicide just won EPA approval despite posing serious risks to human health and wildlife.

The EPA just approved use of the toxic herbicide Enlist Duo on millions of acres of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton in 34 states. Earthjustice lawyers, on behalf of farmers, conservation groups and food and farmworker justice organizations, are fighting back in court against this decision, which could put human health and wildlife at risk.

The recent slew of administration attacks on protections for clean water, clean air and food and worker safety could send America back to a time of unchecked pollution.

In 1971, the EPA launched Documerica, a project to capture images of environmental problems, EPA activities and everyday life in America. Freelance photographers captured more than 15,000 photos of the heightened air and water crises of that time. These pictures show us the situation we could return to if we defang and defund the EPA. 

Coffee ripening in the Aquiares Estate varietal garden

In the shade of the poró trees on the coffee farm I help run in Costa Rica, it’s not uncommon to see brightly colored birds, such as oropendolas and toucans, as well as stout, pheasant-like gallinas de monte—alongside an occasional thermometer. Mother Nature provides the wildlife; the thermometers belong to a group of scientists working with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Freshly caught seafood

As a kid, I was so in awe of the ocean that when the tide went out, I thought I might get swept away to Portugal. Even today, when I go for a swim or look out at the rolling waves, it seems hard to believe that humans could affect something so vast and powerful. Yet scientists have been warning us for decades that human activity is changing the ocean—and that oceans are not the boundless resources we once assumed.

Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

If the worst should happen—if the U.S. withdraws from the Paris climate agreement and rescinds President Obama’s Clean Power Plan—do we have any hope of protecting climate stability? Yes. Even in the face of such serious setbacks, all would not be lost. Clean energy and energy efficiency are already a part of our power system.

The FDA received an outpouring of comments from the public voicing concern about phthalates, harmful chemicals used in food packaging and processing equipment.

No matter how healthy your diet, it’s nearly impossible to steer clear of toxic chemicals called phthalates. These hormone-disrupting chemicals are used in the plastic packaging covering meats and cheeses whose fats can promote leaching of the chemicals into the food. Phthalates are also in plastic tubing and equipment in food processing plants and in the plastic gloves worn by food workers.

The Food and Drug Administration has failed to crack down on the abuse of life-saving medicines on factory farms.

If you’ve ever had kids in preschool or daycare, you know they’re going to get sick. In those early years, kids are still learning about personal hygiene and germs spread fast. So we do our best to keep schools clean while we teach our kids how to cover their sneezes, wash their hands, wipe their noses and learn the good sanitation habits that will keep them healthy. If they get sick, we treat them.

What we don’t do is put antibiotics in their morning cereal to ward off disease. 

skhoward/iStock

When I was a kid, processed cheese was a family camping staple. It tasted great, melted beautifully and, most importantly, didn’t spoil easily. We didn’t think of it as “processed cheese food,” or wonder what exactly it was made out of. And we certainly didn’t suspect that the plastic it was wrapped in might be leaching hormone-disrupting chemicals into our campfire dinners.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.