PAN logoPesticide Action Network (PAN) has trained citizens to use a simple yet robust device called a Drift Catcher to measure pesticide drift that wafts onto their land from neighboring farms. The program has given organic farmers a way to take action amid the gagged world of Big Ag, where there is no way to prevent drift or to seek retribution for damaged crops, lost income and/or lost organic status.

“We know we have drift, but how much is unknown,” [Laura] Krouse says. “I’m measuring because I want to know, and if we find it, I’m saying keep your poison off my farm and out of my air.” (Grist)

Farmers are taking measurements this growing season and sending their samples off to PAN scientists for analysis. This season’s pesticide drift results will only be released to the farmers who took the samples, which is a little disappointing for the rest of us who are curious, but it will allow affected farmers to make decisions together about potential actions.

Results from monitoring fungicide drift in Minnesota between June 2006 and August 2009 have been published on the PAN website, which said, “Residues of one or more pesticides were detected in 66% of the samples,” and the fungicide “chlorothalonil – used mainly on potatoes in Minnesota – was found in 64% of samples that were tested for it.”

“This year we were overwhelmed with the number of applicants to our Drift Catcher trainings. Each potential participant had a compelling reason to document pesticide drift, from stories about suspicious tumors and rashes, to farmers who grow local produce but have lost their crops to drift from neighboring fields… We’ll use the data to bring attention to the problem of pesticide drift and to propose concrete changes.” (PAN’s GroundTruth blog)

“Drift catching could eventually convince farmers who use chemicals to change their ways, said the farmer, asking that his name not be used. “As word travels that there are farmers in the fields measuring drift, they will think twice, aware that they’re being watched.” (Grist)

Continue reading here:

Grist: “Drift catchers use citizen science to fight pesticide pollution

PAN’s GroundTruth blog: “Drift catching in the Midwest: Ready, Set, Go!