The Red Flag That Shifted Our Future
Stacy Malkan was looking for a story. She was the co-publisher of a monthly newspaper in Colorado, and was looking for something to feature on her next cover. She thought the controversy over the county’s plan to spray pesticides along a popular bike path might fit the bill and decided to attend an informational meeting intended to put the publics’ fears over the spraying to rest. Stacy and the residents at the meeting were treated to a video portraying pesticides as a safe solution to the terrible scourge of weeds. When the film was over and the credits rolled it was evident that the video was produced by chemical companies, including Dow and DuPont.
“That’s when the yelling started,” says Malkan.
She decided that this was the cover story she was looking for; “I spent the next week interviewing government officials and scientists, and I followed the weed specialists around for two days to learn about the weeds. What I learned is that these guys knew just about everything there was to know about the weeds, but nothing about the chemicals they were planning to spray around the areas where kids bike and play.”
During her research she asked the town manager what was being sprayed on town property to control weeds. His response? “Oh, just Roundup®. You can buy it at Walmart so it must be safe!” Stacy says “This was my red flag that the chemical companies are the ones running the show and the public and government don’t have the information they need to protect them from toxic chemicals.”
Change Can Happen
This “a-ha moment” happened in 1998 and awakened Stacy to the fact that consumers are being deceived and cleverly marketed to by companies that do not necessarily have our best interests at heart. It was the seed that grew into Stacy’s career as a relentless advocate for transparency and the elimination of harmful chemicals in the products we bring into our homes and use on our bodies. A few years after her “a-ha moment” in Colorado, Stacy took a job as the communications director for the non-profit Healthcare Without Harm, which advocates for ecologically sustainable practices in the health care industry. Here she met the people she would co-found the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics with.
In the ten years that Stacy worked tirelessly with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics she witnessed huge successes in the fight to shift the market towards safer products.
Recently, she decided to change her focus a bit; “after so many years working for safer cosmetics, I was interested to learn more about the movement for safer food - this also a large and powerful movement led by women.”
The food industry is not without similarity to the cosmetic industry – chemicals are at the heart of both. Of the food industry Stacy says; “this is an industry stuck in the past that wants to keep profiting from dangerous chemicals rather than creating the next generation of safer products.”
Get To Know Glyphosate
Stacy channeled her passion for a safe world into co-founding a second non-profit; U.S. Right to Know. This organization is focused on the food industry and our right to transparency in the food system as well as exposing the behind the scenes issues that impact what we put in our bodies. Their tag line sums it up nicely; “pursuing truth and transparency in America’s food system.”
U.S. Right to Know has generated articles on hot button issues in the food world; artificial sweeteners, food-related diseases and pesticides. One pesticide in particular, glyphosate, is a hot topic with Savvy:
Glyphosate is a herbicide. It is used to kill weeds and is very good at its job. It is also a 'probable human carcinogen,' as noted by the cancer specialists at the World Health Organization. The glyphosate issue does not exist in a vacuum – it incorporates many of the issues with our food supply, most notably GMOs. If GMOs did not exist, glyphosate would likely not be nearly as prevalent. There is one company that seems to have a vested interest in the proliferation of glyphosate – Monsanto.
Says Malkan; “Monsanto also owns the GMO seeds that are genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, and farmers are having to use more and more glyphosate to kill the weeds that are becoming resistant. It’s a sick cycle – but a profitable one for Monsanto which is why they fought so hard against GMO labeling.”
But glyphosate isn’t just found on large-scale farming operations. Chances are you have some in your basement or garage. Glyphosate in the main ingredient in the common household weed killer Roundup®. And as that town manager pointed out to Stacy Malkan back in 1998, it was and still is available for purchase at Walmart (and so many other well-known stores). But it is far from safe. This is a topic to follow closely, and to do this, closely follow U.S. Right To Know .
Start (Fearless and Determined) In Your Home
Stacy Malkan’s fierce commitment to a safer world through safer use of chemicals is inspiring. If you’d like to join the movement, start in your own home.
- Try this very effective homemade (and easy to make) weed killer.
- Buy organic when possible to lower your exposure to glyphosate treated crops and to support the farmers who don’t use it.
- Want to dig a little deeper? Check out Stacy’s highly informative and easy to read book Not Just A Pretty Face .
- Want to do more? Find out how you can help U.S. Right To Know.
Stacy firmly believes that little changes by many are how big changes are created. She says; “that’s how we change world – one by one!”
Are intrigued by the possible impact you can have on harmful chemicals like glyphosate? Check out our (free) Mugshot email series. The Savvy Women’s Alliance narrowed potential harmful chemicals down to those where your effort will be most actionable and impactful, satisfying that part of us that likes to make progress.