Kathleen Masterson

Kathleen Masterson was Harvest Public Media’s reporter based at Iowa Public Radio in Ames, Iowa. At Bowdoin College in Maine, Kathleen studied English and Environmental Studies and was torn as to which one she’d have to “choose” when finding a job. She taught high school English for a few years, and then swung back to science when she traveled to rural Argentina to work on a bird research project. She returned home to study science journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduate school she went on to work as digital producer for NPR’s science desk before joining Harvest.

Environmental officials suspect the Chemfab plant in North Bennington has been emitting the chemical PFOA through its smokestacks for years

Yet since the 1960s, the chemical manufacturer DuPont had information that PFOA may be linked to heightened cancer risks. It wasn't until a lawsuit in the mid-2000s that the company shared this information with the Environmental Protection Agency.

State officials in Vermont and New York have been testing water and people in areas where water wells are contaminated by the suspected carcinogen PFOA — and now professors and college students are joining the response team.  

The news of the contamination of water wells in North Bennington and across the border in Hoosick Falls, New York, has drawn renewed attention to the chemical PFOA. It has been used in making Teflon and other water-repellant coatings. The chemical has since been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as an “emerging contaminant.”  

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits with President Barack Obama at a state dinner this Thursday, it will mark the first time in nearly 20 years the United States has hosted a Canadian leader for a high-profile White House event.

This November, voters in California will decide whether the state should require labels on foods with genetically engineered ingredients. If the initiative, known as Proposition 37, passes, manufacturers would have to say somewhere on the front or the back of the food's packaging if the product contains or may contain genetically engineered ingredients.

California is known as the land of fruits and nuts, but it also happens to be the country's largest milk-producing state. So it's no surprise that its dairy farmers are front and center in the debate over reforming the milk marketing system, which hasn't really changed much in 30 years.

After a series of videos revealing apparent cruel treatment of farm animals went viral, Iowa has made it a crime for people to misrepresent themselves to gain access to a farm. The so-called "Ag-Gag" law targets undercover animal rights activists who secretly take videos. Farmers say they need the legal protection to block those trying to take down agriculture, but critics ask what the industry may be hiding.