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  • HHRA Earns Highest Rating from Guidestar/Candid

    By Russell K. King, executive director I’m pleased to announce that the HHRA has earned the Candid Platinum Seal of Transparency for 2023 –an achievement earned by fewer than one percent of US-based nonprofits. The Candid Platinum Seal is the highest level of recognition offered by Candid (formerly known as GuideStar) and is awarded to organizations that meet the highest standards of transparency and accountability. It’s an achievement that’s doubly important for the HHRA. The Candid Platinum Seal demonstrates the HHRA’s commitment to transparency and accountability. Our board, staff, volunteers, and partners believe that by sharing our data, metrics, and strategic priorities with the public, we can build trust and confidence in our organization and our work. To earn the Candid Platinum Seal, non-profit organizations must meet a rigorous set of criteria, including providing complete and accurate information about their mission, programs, finances, and governance on the Candid website, and sharing strategic priorities and information about outcomes. So why is this doubly important for the HHRA?  It’s important for all nonprofit organizations seeking grants and donations because the Candid Platinum Seal is a globally recognized acknowledgement that can inspire a higher level of confidence in the organization among potential grantors and donors–thereby making them far more likely to give. For the HHRA, however, it’s also important because our mission is one that relies on our credibility.  For our work to make a difference in people’s lives, people have to trust our processes, our findings, and our recommendations. The Candid Platinum Seal will help tell the world that, indeed, the HHRA is to be trusted. The leadership of the HHRA has always put integrity of the science first, which sets the HHRA apart in en era awash in willful misinformation and pseudoscience. I’ve long been a fierce advocate for the integrity in science, science reporting, and health information, so I’m proud to carry the torch that’s been passed to me. The HHRA supports researchers willing to seek answers to controversial questions. Our alliance of doctors, researchers, policy experts, and communicators works to answer questions that the government and private sector are too often unable or unwilling to address.  Through it all, we adhere strictly to scientific and ethical best practices to keep our research above reproach. The Candid Platinum Seal is an echo of the values that form the heart of the HHRA.  Let’s wear it with pride as we move forward.

  • Russell King | Executive Director Greetings from the New Executive Director

    By Russell K. King, HHRA Executive Director But yield who will to their separation,My object in living is to uniteMy avocation and my vocationAs my two eyes make one in sight. Robert Frost’s sentiment rang in my ears as I considered adopting the HHRA’s mission as my own. Why, after more than 25 years as a nonprofit CEO, would I take on a challenge of this complexity? Typically, when evaluating a potential professional challenge, you compare the attributes and experiences needed with those you possess. If they align sufficiently, it’s a good omen. I’ve spent more than a decade leading nonprofit organization through transitions, including a foundation that funded scientific research and two associations of medical professionals. I’ve created two development programs and led four others. And I’ve shared my expertise in nonprofit governance and policy, communications, and servant leadership. This constellation of what HHRA needs and what I can offer suggested that this was the direction I should follow. But there was something more. That something echoed Frost’s lines above: The chance to unite that which I enjoy, that which is most meaningful to me, with my work, thus uniting “my avocation and my vocation.” The two principles that have driven both my personal and professional lives have been: 1) we best find our way via the rigors and integrity of the scientific method, and 2) we create the richest meanings for our lives when we strive to help others. The HHRA, using science to improve and protect human health, rings both those bells with vigor. So here I am, eager to help the HHRA build on its illustrious beginnings and move to its next stage of development and growth. I will, of course, need your help. I won’t be shy about asking for it; please don’t be shy about offering it. This mission will require our collaboration, cooperation, and coordination. It will present moments in which we must support, encourage, and inspire each other. Worthy missions always do. For me, it’s the worthiness that matters most. Again, as Frost noted, we do this because it’s the right thing to do: Only where love and need are one,And the work is play for mortal stakes,Is the deed ever really doneFor Heaven and the future’s sakes.

  • A man spraying pesticides California’s Bold Plan to Transform Pest Management Systems is Long on Ambition and Light on Details

    By: Chuck Benbrook, HHRA ED By: Mark Lipson, HHRA Director of Policy and Regulatory Engagement We welcomed the invitation from California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation for members of the public to offer comments and guidance as the State begins to take concrete actions needed to achieve the goals set forth in the new report Sustainable Pest Management: A Roadmap for California. Reviewing the 94-page Roadmap report reminded us how many constituencies, forces, and factors are pushing and pulling farmers, pest managers, and government agencies in multiple directions that are rarely aligned. This Roadmap document describes a very different pest management future that will hopefully become the “de facto” way pests are managed on and off the farm by 2050. If successful by 2050, prevention-based biointensive Integrated Pest Management (bioIPM) will be the norm and there will be minimal if any use of high-risk “Priority Pesticides”. Some thirty-two years ago, DPR hired Chuck Benbrook to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of DPR’s programs and policies to assist in the integration of DPR into the newly-formed Cal-EPA. The resulting report, Challenge and Change: A Progressive Approach to Pesticide Regulation in California, came out in March of 1993. It provides dozens of recommendations intended to do many of the same things that the 2023 Roadmap report hopes to bring within reach. The fact that most pest management systems in California have become more, not less reliant on pesticides over the last 30 years suggests that DPR’s and CDFA’s efforts to achieve Roadmap goals are going to entail heavy lifting, mostly uphill. For this reason in HHRA’s comments, Mark and Chuck describe the nature and substantial scope of changes in laws and policy that will be required to track progress toward Roadmap goals and hopefully, someday, achieve them.

HHRA’s Accomplishments in 2022

Jan 4th, 2023
Happy New Year!

As 2022 comes to a close, HHRA is happy to report progress on all fronts. We share some highlights from 2022 and describe what we hope to accomplish in 2023-2025.


A New Mission and VisionAs a part of our strategic planning efforts, HHRA developed new mission and vision statements. HHRA strives to fulfill its mission:

(1) by engaging scientists and clinicians in public-health centric research that is both critical and underfunded, (2) by creating new tools and analytical systems that lower the cost and accelerate the pace of scientific progress, and (3) via outreach, education, and public policy initiatives that draw upon new science to leverage constructive change.


Our flagship project – The Heartland Study – is taking off.  The study has now enrolled almost 400 mother-infant pairs and hundreds of urine samples have already been tested for herbicides. We also started enrolling biological fathers in 2022, which allows us to explore how dad’s pesticide exposures can impact pregnancy and children’s development.

Expanding our efforts…

In 2022 the Heartland Study brought on a new research site at Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin and we hope to soon announce another new study site. Both new sites will begin MIP enrollments early in 2023. We are on track to reach the Heartland Study’s initial goal of enrolling 2,000 MIPs into the Phase 1 protocol by early 2025.


HHRA is working to develop more accurate and cost-effective methods to analyze human exposure to pesticides, including herbicides.
HHRA is working to develop more accurate and cost-effective methods to analyze human exposure to pesticides, including herbicides.

Our relationship with the Center for Toxicological Research (CTQ) in Quebec, Canada is flourishing. The CTQ team is conducting all HS urine testing for herbicides using CTQ’s two state-of-the-art methods. One method detects glyphosate and its primary metabolite AMPA, as well as glufosinate and its primary metabolite 3-MPPA.

The second, multi-analyte method used by CTQ was developed at the request of HHRA. It detects 13 pesticide analytes including two Heartland Study priorities: the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. We have run close to 800 samples of urine from pregnant women through one or both of these methods and are building by far the largest contemporary biomonitoring dataset of its kind. Plus, the new method developed by CTQ with funding from HHRA will be accessible to other research teams and governments around the world.


The Dietary Risk Index (DRI) analytical system helps us track pesticide exposures from the diet.
The Dietary Risk Index (DRI) analytical system helps us track pesticide exposures from the diet.

HHRA has worked for three years to expand, refine, and move the DRI analytical system onto the HHRA website. The move was completed at the end of 2022. The DRI translates data on residues in food into risk metrics relative to regulator-set maximum allowed daily intakes of specific pesticides.

There is no system with comparable capabilities in use anywhere in the world. Access the description of the DRI and information on data sources and methodology here. The interactive tables are accessible here .


Public Health Conferences

In May and November, 2022 HHRA sponsored panels at the annual meetings of the Iowa Public Health Association in Ames and the American Public Health Association in Boston. In Iowa we organized two 90-minutes sessions, had a booth, and sponsored a reception.

HHRA presenting at the APHA conference in Boston
HHRA presenting at the APHA conference in Boston

Our November session at the APHA conference included presentations by a stellar, international team of scientists. Dr. Landrigan’s talk included important preliminary findings of HHRA’s testing of urine samples for the herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D.

Heartland Stories Radio

Our team at the Heartland Stories Radio and Podcast works hard to bring together diverse voices to tell important stories in food, farming, and public health innovation. We now have over 100 episodes! Help us continue growing our audience by subscribing to our new HSR email blasts, where we will send biweekly emails highlighting interviews with top experts, pioneers, innovators, and changemakers in agriculture, food, and public health. Subscribe here.

HHRA’s Public Policy Advisory Committee

In 2022 we authored and submitted three sets of comments to government agencies in response to requests for public comment.

New Papers Published in 2022


We carry considerable momentum into 2023 and hope to triple our monthly rate of mother-infant pair enrollments by early 2024. But to do so we also have to broaden our donor pool and accelerate fundraising. Please consider making a donation, subscribing to our newsletter, and following HHRA on social media!

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