Posts Tagged ‘Pesticide’
One of the most common arguments people often use to defend vaccinations alleges that vaccines are responsible for eradicating epidemic diseases of the past such as polio and smallpox. But a recent investigative review put together by Jeffry John Aufderheide over at VacTruth.com explains not only why this claim is untrue, but also why pesticides may have been responsible for spurring these disease outbreaks in the first place.
As part of a trivia series on polio, Aufderheide cites several studies showing that the widespread use of chemical pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, and heptachlor following World War II, actual exacerbated viral disease outbreaks across the United States.
On a visual graph, it is clearly seen that the production and use of pesticides throughout the mid-20th century is directly correlated to polio outbreaks, including the worst polio epidemic in known history, which occurred in 1952.
You can view the graph here:
According to a report compiled by the Secretary of the Interior that was presented before the 85th Congress back in 1958, polio really only became a problem after the 1940s, when chemical companies began to produce large amounts of DDT, heptachlor, dieldrin, tetraethyl pyrophosphate (TEPP), malathion, benzene hexachloride (BHC) and other pesticide chemicals for use on agricultural crops. Prior to that time, polio was not nearly as virulent or problematic as many people believe it was.
As DDT and other pesticides were eventually phased out, cases of polio also began to decline, which suggests that vaccines may not have been primarily responsible for eradicating polio. Improvements in sanitation, which are hardly ever mentioned by mainstream health authorities, also played a major role in eradicating polio.
Pesticide-contaminated milk also responsible for polio outbreaks
Many people during the 1950s became ill as a result of pesticide-contaminated milk, much of which ended up having to be quietly pulled from store shelves in subsequent years. This contaminated milk was also known to be a primary carrier of polio, and was directly responsible for spreading the disease until the contaminating pesticides were eventually phased out, and the milk supply effectively remediated.
Interestingly, milk-induced disease outbreaks were responsible for the later creation of milk pasteurization mandates. But it was the pesticides and their tolerance of polio virus, not the fact that milk was raw, that was responsible for spreading disease. And yet the belief that raw milk is inherently dangerous is still prevalent today, while few have any real understanding of the role pesticide-tainted milk played in spreading disease, and particularly polio.
Right around the time that dangerous pesticides were being retired and sanitation was being improved, authorities released a polio vaccine that they claimed would eradicate the disease. The precise timing of this strategic release would later be used to claim that the vaccine, and not agricultural and sanitation improvements, was responsible for ending polio.
Revisionist history continues to fuel myth that vaccines are responsible for eradicating disease
Because of the way drug companies and vaccine manufacturers have influenced governmental and health authorities over the years, the myth that vaccines are responsible for eradicating disease has prevailed. Truth be told, the polio vaccine has been shown to actually cause many of the paralysis symptoms associated with polio, including in India where there has been a 1,200 percent increase vaccine-associated polio paralysis (VAPP) since the introduction of massive polio vaccine campaigns throughout the country (http://www.naturalnews.com/035588_polio_vaccine_India_paralysis.html).
Be sure to read Aufderheide’s complete 7 Trivia Facts About Polio for an eye-opening look at the facts surrounding this notorious disease:
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Exposure among amphibians and other vertebrate animals to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has been shown, for the very first time, to actually induce physical changes to the shapes of these animals’ bodies. Published in the journalEcological Applications, the new study reveals once again the incredible hormone-altering power of Roundup, and how even minute exposure to this highly-toxic chemical brew can have disastrous health consequences.
In their natural environment, tadpoles, which are just amphibians in the larval stage of their life cycle, have a natural ability to detect the presence of predators and respond accordingly. In order to avoid insect predators, for instance, tadpoles can actually develop deeper or longer tails in order to swim away from them faster, which helps ensure their survival (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10862727).
But it appears as though Roundup, which has already been shown in other studies to be highly pervasive throughout the environment (http://www.naturalnews.com/033699_Roundup_pollution.html), induces these very same physical changes. And when exposed to both Roundup and natural predators, tadpoles will develop grossly large tails that are much larger than normal, which is likely the result of both the tadpoles’ detection of Roundup, and Roundup’s ability to chemically-induce hormonal changes.
“What shocked us was that the Roundup induced the same changes,” said Rick Relyea, a professor of biological sciences at theUniversity of Pittsburgh‘s (Pitt)Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciencesand director of Pitt’sPymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, referring to changes in the tadpoles’ tails that caused them to actually become twice as large as normal.
“This discovery highlights the fact that pesticides […] can have unintended consequences for species that are not the pesticides’ target. [W]e are learning that [pesticides and herbicides] can have a wide range of surprising effects by altering how hormones work in the bodies of animals.”
For his study, Relyea examined how tadpoles living in water tanks respond to varying exposures of Roundup, as well as to predators. And his findings revealed that Roundup visibly alters tadpoles’ stress hormones, which appears to coincide with an earlier study that revealed Roundup-induced hormonal changes in humans (http://www.naturalnews.com/035135_Roundup_herbicide_testosterone.html).
Meanwhile, more than a dozen Argentinian farmers have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, creator of Roundup, and several tobacco companies for allegedly knowingly poisoning them with Roundup and other pesticide and herbicide chemicals. According to the filing, Monsanto’s pesticides and herbicides caused the farmers’ children to be born with “devastating birth defects” (http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/04/10/45469.htm).
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A recent study published in the Journal of Toxicology in Vitro has found that, even at very low levels, Monsanto’s herbicide formula Roundup destroys testosterone and ultimately leads to male infertility. The findings add to the more than 25 other diseases known to be linked to Roundup, which include DNA damage, birth defects, liver dysfunction, and cancer.
For their study, Emilie Clair and her colleagues from the Universite de Caen Basse-Normandie Institute of Biology in France tested the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, on testicular cells from rats. Ranging in dilution from one part per million (ppm) to 10,000 ppm, which accounts for varying exposure levels in real life situations, each of the tests revealed undeniable cell toxicity caused by Roundup.
Interestingly, the findings revealed that even at one ppm, Roundup was responsible for causing severe endocrine disruption that reduced testosterone levels by 35 percent. And a one ppm exposure level is considered to be extremely low, and much lower than typical exposure levels in everyday environmental situations.
At higher exposure levels, Roundup was shown to induce testicular cell death in a little as one hour, and typically no later than 48 hours after exposure. And this is only acute toxicity, as the study did not analyze the long-term effects of continual and repeated exposure to Roundup, which has already been shown to seep into rivers and groundwater supplies.
A similar study published in the journalReproductive Toxicologyback in 2007 found similar results. In vivo tests with Roundup revealed that the ducks exposed to Roundup exhibited “alterations in the structure of the testis and epididymal (a part of the male reproductive system) region as well as in the serum levels of testosterone and estradiol, with changes in the expression of androgen receptors restricted to the testis.”
So contrary to the claims made by Monsanto, there is truly no safe exposure level to Roundup. At typical exposure levels, it has been proven to destroy human cells and cause serious reproductive harm. And at trace levels, it has been proven to severely disrupt proper hormonal function and lead to low testosterone in men.
“Because it’s a systemic pesticide and sprayed in high doses, produce and fruit and nut trees often take up the poison into the parts of the food we eat,” writes Leah Zerbe in a recentRodale Newspiece on Roundup. “Three easy ways to reduce your exposure? Eat organically grown foods … [a]dopt organic lawn care techniques in your yard, and start an organic garden to further reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.”
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Over the past year, industrial produce growers and pesticide makers have made much ado about EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which assembles federal testing data on many fruits and vegetables and makes it easy for consumers to see which have the most pesticide residues – and which have the least. The industry has ramped up efforts to attack the Guide, with the help, ironically, of a federal grant funded with your tax dollars.
The critics claim that the Guide’s “Dirty Dozen” list discourages people from eating adequate amounts of fresh produce, arguing that none of the levels of pesticide detected are deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency. Most consumers, of course, understand perfectly well that the Shoppers Guide is a just that – a handy guide. If they are concerned about pesticide residues, it provides a concise summary of the data, which, as the industry points out, is “long and somewhat cumbersome.” And EWG makes a point of encouraging everyone to eat more fruits and vegetables, not less.
What conventional growers and their pesticide industry allies don’t like to focus on is what’s been happening with long-term trends in pesticide residues. What the data shows is that overall, the percentage of samples on which pesticides are detected has been increasing – from 42 percent prior to the Shopper’s Guide to more than 70 percent in 2008.
The chart below shows the overall rate of pesticide detections from 1994 to 2008. The red portion of the bar at the bottom reflects samples that carried 4 or more pesticide residues, and the grey portion at the top shows what percentage contained no residue.
There’s a break in the chart between 2002 and 2003. That’s when the US Department of Agriculture changed its sampling procedures. Before 2003, if a pesticide decomposed into multiple chemicals that were themselves on the list to be monitored, each one was counted as a separate “exposure.” But in 2003, USDA began counting the original pesticide and its breakdown offspring as just a single exposure. In effect, it changed its counting method to make the numbers smaller – at a time when pesticide formulas were getting more complex.
Despite what was (arguably) a bit of accounting sleight-of-hand, the number of different residues found on fruits and vegetables continued to rise. In fact, from the time the Shopper’s Guide made its debut in 2003 to 2008, the number of samples carrying two or more residues doubled, and the number showing four or more almost tripled. In 2003, one of every three samples contained at least one pesticide residue, and one of every 12 contained several. By 2008, nearly eight of every 10 samples contained at least one, and one in six contained four or more. The trend is similar for samples with two or three residues. The only category that shrank was samples with only one residue.
During the life of the Shopper’s Guide, in other words, your odds of being exposed to pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables have almost doubled, and your odds of being exposed to multiple pesticides have more than doubled.
Not only that, but as the next graphic shows, from 1994 to 2008 the number of samples with residues exceeding the legal limits set by EPA went up tenfold. In other words, there is a ten times greater chance that the produce you eat today is carrying residue levels EPA deems risky. Again, this is despite the fact that fewer pesticide formulations are being monitored, and more produce is being grown organically.
Why are growers applying more pesticides to fruit and vegetable crops? Farm consolidation is likely part of the reason. As this 2007 data from USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey shows, more than 87 percent of the nation’s fruits and vegetables came from just 8 percent of the farms, which owned 79 percent of the cropland. By contrast, 68 percent of the farms, combined, own only 4 percent of the land and grow less than 1 percent of the crops.
The reason is that you simply can’t raise fruits and vegetables on mega-farms profitably without using pesticides to lower labor costs. Pesticides, while expensive, are cheaper than farm workers – even when they’re underpaid. Couple this with weak regulations that simply require pesticide users to “read the label,” a lack of compliance monitoring and generous liability protections for most uses, the need to ship produce great distances to consumers, and you have an environment where larding on more pesticide always makes economic sense.
Give the consumers some credit
The more you look at the data, the more you see the real problem with US fruit and vegetable consumption. Consumers are opting for produce that is chemical-free while industrial agriculture is applying increasingly complex chemicals to its crops and ever-increasing amounts of residues are going home on its fruits and vegetables. While EPA says those residues are “safe,” growing numbers of consumers are choosing to avoid them when they can.
That consumer mistrust is largely a product of pesticides’ history. Pesticide makers (and the government) use testing regimes aimed at ensuring that their products won’t kill people immediately, but they pay scant attention to potential long-term environmental and health effects. The policy is, basically, “wait to see what happens.” Inevitably, problems eventually do show up and then tend to attract substantial publicity. Testing new chemicals on your customers is not a strong marketing strategy, but it is one the industry has relied on for more than 60 years.
It was, after all, weak regulation of agricultural chemicals that led Rachel Carson to write Silent Spring, triggering the modern environmental movement more than 60 years ago. And new concerns keep cropping up. Pesticides are under scrutiny for their effects on monarch butterfly populations and bees. They have been linked to birth defects (repeatedly) and numerous adulthealth problems. And that’s just in the last few years.
When your product is designed to kill, your marketing is based on a “trust us” mentality, and your record of pursuing profits over consumer interests is so dismal that you scare your customers, business-as-usual is not likely to be a good strategy – no matter how many taxpayer dollars you throw at it.
People don’t refuse to eat vegetables because of the Shopper’s Guide. If they refuse at all, it’s because they don’t want to eat vegetables from people they don’t trust. Big Ag constantly defends mega-farm, chemical-intensive farming methods and downplays the never-ending river of studies that show the dangers of pesticide exposure. Growers and pesticide makers should spend their money to address the real problems, rather than spending taxpayer dollars on marketing campaigns that pretend those problems don’t exist and on attacking simple consumer information tools. They should rethink their testing programs and work with the EPA to develop a system people can have faith in. They should look at how pesticides are applied and push for monitoring systems that ensure accountability and result in produce that consumers actually want. They should look at their production models and change to farm more sustainably, with less chemical dependence.
Consumers’ interest is what makes the Shopper’s Guide so popular; the Shopper’s Guide doesn’t drive consumer interest. EWG’s message is so widely heard because it gives consumers what they want. Big Ag should try that.