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Toxic Taters calls on RDO to show true support to local children

Potato giant RD Offutt Company (RDO) announced its plans to sell French fries at this year’s Hubbard County Fair and donate the proceeds to the 4-H again this year. Last year, the multi-million dollar corporation raised over $2,000 from fair-goers through this fundraising effort.  This year, local grassroots group Toxic Taters is asking some big questions about the effort.

We think it’s good that RDO is trying to give back to the community. We believe that they have a responsibility to the people who live here and who are impacted by their farming and production methods. We think they can do better. Donating to the 4-H is great. Keep doing it. But, how about telling people what chemicals you’re using on the fields? How about cutting your chemical use across all your fields, not just a tiny test area? Show our kids you care by taking care of their health.

In May of this year, Toxic Taters worked with Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and other allied organizations to present Kids on the Frontline: How Pesticides Are Undermining the Health of Rural Children, PAN’s new national report highlighting the latest scientific evidence about the impact of pesticides on children’s health.

Toxic Taters hosted local events in Park Rapids and Pine Point. The report summarized  growing scientific research connecting pesticide exposure to increases in childhood cancers and neurological disorders such as autism spectrum disorders. Children in rural areas like Hubbard County are exposed to a "double dose" of pesticides: in addition to pesticide food residues facing all children, rural kids are exposed to agricultural pesticides in the air, water, and dust in their communities.

While direct correlations to pesticide exposure cannot often be confirmed, Toxic Taters expressed concern that Minnesota has higher rates than the national average for leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and overall childhood cancers as well as a higher than average number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Our message to RDO is simple. You want to support our kids, that’s great. Do it. Cut your pesticide use. We hope that everyone who comes to the fair joins us in that message. We’re encouraging people to donate directly to the 4-H. Tell RDO to cut the pesticides. Stop by the Toxic Taters booth to learn more.

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