This is a great article I found explaining why pesticides are bad for us. Yes, we all like to eat things that are pretty but I think I’d choose healthy over pretty any day. Not only do pesticides have a negative impact on the health of humans, but they have a negative impact on wildlife and the environment as a whole. Read on to learn more, but be prepared to be shocked and/or appalled.
At this point, most people are at least somewhat aware that pesticides cause a great deal of environmental harm. Less well known are the effects pesticides have on individual and public health. Here, I give you 5 compelling reasons to avoid pesticides.
A quick note: This list is a little data-heavy. To start, it will help to read through the bold lines first, and then go back to see the data behind each claim.
1. Acute exposure can kill you.
“Late in the afternoon of April 1, 1990, a three-year-old girl playing in front of her trailer home in California’s San Joaquin Valley suddenly lost control of her body and began foaming at the mouth. By the time the girl arrived at the local emergency room, she was near death. She recovered eventually. A report filed with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation concluded the child had been poisoned by aldicarb, a highly toxic insecticide that works the same way on people as it does on bugs — like nerve gas. ‘Somebody had parked a tractor with pesticide material on it right in front of the play area,’ said Michael O’Malley, the author of the report and a physician at the University of California, Davis.”
– Matt Crenson, Associated Press, December 9, 1997
Some common symptoms of over-exposure include burning, stinging, or itchy eyes, nose, throat and skin; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, coughing, headache. These symptoms can range from mild irritation to death. These symptoms are often misdiagnosed and not attributed to pesticide poisoning. [Peel Public Health]
2. Chronic exposure to pesticides can lead to neurological damage, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Several studies have shown a link between pesticide exposure and the onset of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other neurological conditions such as epilepsy. The main path of exposure is airborne: breathing pesticides. Recently, UCLA researchers looked at Central Valley residents diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and found that “years of exposure to the combination of these two pesticides [the herbicide paraquat and fungicide maneb] increased the risk of Parkinson’s by 75 percent. Further, for people 60 years old or younger diagnosed with Parkinson’s, earlier exposure had increased their risk for the disease by as much as four- to six-fold.” [ScienceDaily]
Dr. Patrick Carr of the University of North Dakota finds that low doses of pesticide exposure induces physical changes in the brain, shown in a PET scan. These changes correlate to “a loss of neurons in particular regions of the brain.” Other regions not experiencing a loss instead express different amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, altering the delicate chemical balance in the brain. [MPRNews]
3. Chronic exposure to pesticides increases the chance of developing endocrine and reproductive disorders. Here are two pesticides to use as case studies:
One recent study found higher levels of miscarriages among women exposed to DDT, and reproductive disorders associated with DDT are well documented in animal studies[6,7]. Another recent study found developmental delays among babies and toddlers exposed in the womb. Other studies have linked DDT to reduced breastmilk production, premature delivery and reduced infant birthweights[9,10]. DDT is classified by US and international authorities as a probable human carcinogen.
DDT is now banned in the US, but is being revived for use as an anti-malaria agent in developing nations. I mention DDT because it shows you the egregious effects of using pesticides that have been poorly studied. Additionally, DDT is still present in our air.
Atrazine has been one of the top two selling pesticides in the US, also commonly found in household pesticide sprays. Many studies on frogs and rodents have shown that atrazine causes developmental disorders and delays and compromises healthy immune function. Most significantly, atrazine causes male frogs and rodents to feminize and produce ovaries and eggs. Animal studies have predictive value in humans, as hormone functions are very similar among all animals. Tyrone Hayes, professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley (whose course I took, he is absolutely amazing, by the way), has done extensive work on this subject and is a prime example of science activism. His website, atrazinelovers.com informs the public about all deleterious effects of atrazine and is backed up with extensive research data. His site states,
similar to atrazine’s induction of prostate cancer and mammary cancer in laboratory rodents, men exposed to atrazine in a Syngenta production facility in Louisiana developed prostate cancer at 8.4 times the rate of unexposed factory workers [9, 10] and women whose well water was contaminated with atrazine were more likely to develop breast cancer when compared to women who lived in the same area, but who do not drink well water .
…to read the rest of this post, please visit the initial site located at http://www.green-blog.org/2010/05/19/5-reasons-why-pesticides-are-bad/
I haven’t put the whole article up because this particular blogger does not have anywhere to click ‘reblog’ on their site, leading me to believe that they would not approve of their entire article being reblogged by me. The information was just so well presented, I couldn’t help but share!
- 10 Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisonings (education.com)
- EPA Considers Banning Gender-Bending Pesticide (ecowatch.org)
- Watch out for the 2012 ‘Dirty Dozen’ (thechart.blogs.cnn.com)
Eating organic can be tricky. A lot of companies, especially from the United States, are ‘green washing’ their products. In the case of food, this can mean throwing the word organic on their packaging. This does not mean that the product you are buying, and often paying extra for, is completely organic.
In the case of produce, those little stickers they put on them are really helpful in determining what you are eating. If the product has been genetically modified or is certified organic, it is required to have a distinctive code. In the case of regular produce, you’ll see a four digit code on the sticker that usually starts with the number four. Although this product is not genetically modified, it will definitely have been exposed to pesticides. I still remember some of the codes from the two and a half years I spent in University as a grocery cashier. The first code you learn on your first day is bananas, 4011. Ask anyone who worked as a cashier. He he he.
Genetically modified foods have a five digit code that begins with the number 8 and is five digits long. These foods have changes introduced into their DNA to be bred for largeness, visual appeal and other desirable traits.
This can also be in livestock and scientists are splicing and dicing more genes every day. GM produce is still exposed to pesticides as well. There is a lot of controversy about GMO/GM products and whether or not they are safe.
Organic produce is often indicated in supermarkets, so customers are able to find what they are looking for more easily. If your supermarket does not do so, look for labels that begin with the number 9 and have five digits. This ensures that what you are consuming was raised without pesticides or genetic tampering. Does this mean that it will be completely free of pesticides, guaranteed? Unfortunately, no. The use of harsher pesticides in the past has left a contaminant in the soils of most farms that still carries through today. However, the percentage is much, MUCH lower than if you buy regular produce.
Products like meat, eggs and dairy is a label reading game, too. If it says organic on the label, chances are you are on the right track, but it’s always best to look and make sure that it clarifies the diet and lack of hormone injections, as well as antibiotics, in the livestock. Another tip having to do specifically with eggs, is to look and make sure they were ‘free-range‘ chickens who were never injected with hormones. This means they roamed free and fed of the land, a much healthier way to raise chickens, organic or not. It means they were moving and healthy, not kept in little cages until they were fat enough to slaughter. ‘Free run‘ is a slightly modified version of this where the chickens are kept in a large open barn, allowed outside for a period of the day, but are given boxed nests to make collection easier. They are much cheaper because less collection work is involved and more eggs can be harvested. Either way, make sure the packaging includes the words ‘hormone free’ and ‘antibiotic free’.
So all in all, follow these suggestions.
- look for organic produce labeled with the number 9 followed by four more digits
- look for meats and dairy that have the words hormone free and antibiotics free on the packaging
- look for eggs that were from free range chickens but that also specify hormone and antibiotic free
- for all other products, make sure it clarifies that it is 100% organic, FDA regulations allow the word ‘organic’ on packaging even if it contains genetically modified ingredients
If you are vigilant with your label reading, you can be better assured that you are getting the healthiest foods for your body.
Have you experienced ‘green washing’ in your grocery store purchases, getting home to read the label more carefully and realizing it wasn’t completely truthful?
- Genetically Modified Food Crops (gravitycontrol.org)
- Guest Article: How to Determine If Foods At The Grocery Store Are Genetically Modified (frugalrecipes.wordpress.com)
- Produce Stickers Are Actually Helpful (datewithyourplate.wordpress.com)
- How to Tell if Your Food is Genetically Modified (http://www.naturalnews.com)