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Today on Rootstock Radio co-host Anne O’Connor talks to Marcia Ishii-Eiteman Senior Scientist and Director of the Grassroots Science Program at Pesticide Action Network. Prior to joining Pesticide Action Network in 1996, Marcia worked in Asia and Africa for 14 years on projects ranging from establishing farmer field schools, to community-based rural development, to women’s health, literacy and resource conservation programs.

In talking about the dangers of pesticides, Marcia draws on a wealth of experience: “What I have seen in my decades around—in different continents—is that this reliance on hazardous pesticides has been growing,” she says, adding that “while these pesticides have been marketed as a necessity to growing food and supposedly feeding the world, what they have actually done is unravel our communities’ capacity to provide healthy nourishing food.”

While the environmental and public health risks posed by pesticides are alarming, Marcia explains that this problem reaches beyond the application of toxic chemicals themselves. “The impact of pesticides on communities is compounded by poverty and racism in our society,” she says, adding that vulnerable populations like farm-workers, kids, pregnant women, low-income communities and indigenous communities often suffer the most from irresponsible agricultural practices.

Farm workers in Salinas, CA. Creative commons.

In light of the problems presented by our current agricultural system and the power structures in our society, Marcia encourages listeners to take “small steps toward collective action” by finding the issue that matters most to you and working toward change in that area.

Listen at the link above or on iTunes or Stitcher to hear more about pesticides, issues related to pesticides, and what—exactly—we can do about them.