Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "organic" ...

  • Chemical Drift, the Second-Hand Smoke of Big Agriculture

    This series documented the dangers posed by agricultural chemicals which are applied both aerially and by land equipment. Some estimates show up to 90 percent of applied chemicals fail to hit the targeted site and drift hundreds of miles in the environment, contaminating people, water systems, air and animals. The series revealed that current safety standards were based on old theories of toxicology, which assume that the danger of chemical exposure is based on the dose. “The dose makes the poison” was the theory. That is not true with endocrine disrupting chemical pesticides that are non-monotonic, meaning that even at very low levels of exposure, significant damage can occur, especially if exposure is during childhood or fetal development. In “Pitchfork Rebels,” Howard wrote about organic farmers training to install environmental sampling devices known as Drift Catchers on their land. The resulting chemical analysis showed the presence of chlorpyrifos, an endocrine disrupting chemical insecticide linked to ADHD and autism, had drifted to their farms from an aerial application more than two miles away. The EPA banned all uses of chlorpyrifos in homes and daycare centers because of its toxicity for children, but it is still allowed in agricultural uses. This article documented the toxin’s drift to an organic farm where three young sisters live.
  • Arsenic in food

    Consumer Reports revealed that arsenic is present in surprising amounts in common food products such as Minute Maid apple juice, Uncle Ben’s brown rice, organic rice cakes, and even infant rice cereal. Yet there is no federal limit on arsenic in most foods and juices, although there is for drinking water. And while Food and Drug Administration claimed that the arsenic in apple and grape juice is essentially a harmless form, our tests showed otherwise.
  • C-HIT: Toxic Laundry Emissions

    Industrial laundries in New England have recently come under intense scrutiny by the EPA, ever since the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) found that volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) were being released at a facility in Waterbury, CT. According to Steve Rapp, Chief of the Air Technical Unit, EPA Region 1, the problem is widespread and significant. “The industrial laundries are grossly under-reporting their VOCs,” said Rapp. “It’s a total sleeper.” The problem stems from the process of laundering shop towels, which are often contaminated with toxic solvents. When improperly cleaned, the solvents are vaporized and emitted to the surrounding air. This article investigated this little-known source of air pollution, shedding light on the industry’s practices and its impact on air quality and public health.
  • Honey Laundering

    "The story documented how the government has failed to stem the flow of banned honey imports into this country, despite tightened border security and growing concerns about food safety."
  • A Natural Question

    Organic food costs consumers extra, sometimes twice as much or more than the "normal" equivalent. This expenditure is justified by the idea that organic foods are healthier. Yet, a Dallas Morning News investigation found that "some organic farmers and plant workers cheat. For example, they spray banned chemicals on their crop, or they raise animals using methods contrary to organic rules." Also, the organizations intended to certify the organic providers sometimes "bend the rules, or they're just woefully unqualified to enforce them." Overseas operations also raise concerns, as they export organic foods, but the USDA is unable to monitor these exports well, and cannot enforce violations.
  • Organic Inc: Natural Foods and How They Grew

    This book traces organic food back to its anti-industrial origins more than a century ago. It describes the evolution of the organic food movement from then to the $11 billion industry it is today. The book shows how the evolving industry came close to betraying the ideals at the heart of its free-market success; this section includes battles over USDA regulations and the way food is produced.
  • The real deal?

    this story is now filed under number 23183
  • The Rocquefort

    Outside magazine looks at the trails of Jose Bove, a cheese-making farmer whose actions have made him "a bona fide environmental star."
  • Bitter Harvest

    Tri-City Herald investigates "a series of deaths, environmental damage and accidents that were traced back to one Columbia Basin farm -- the largest organic farm in the state." The stories reveal that the managers of the mint farm - the two brothers Mike and Gerald "Spud" Brown -- were ignoring pollution and state laws. Meanwhile, government "agencies failed to take decisive action to prevent deaths and pollution."
  • Carrots over Sticks

    A Washington Monthly investigation reports on audit privileges for companies that have voluntarily discovered and disclosed information about their polluting activities. The Environmental Protection Agency, however, finds that audit laws, so far adopted by 19 states, make enforcement more difficult. The issue is exemplified with the case of Coors, which discovered that brewery emissions are polluting the air, and was fined more than $1 million for violations of environmental laws. Around 75% of companies now do environmental self-audits, the magazine reports. Those that don't often say they fear paying penalties in case they discover their own violations.