The Scary Truth About Pesticides

Why should we be concerned with pesticides? Aren’t there plenty of checks and balances in place to make sure the public is safe from harm? With the processes companies go through with Research and Development plus registration with the government, do we really need the additional burden of further research when we have so many other things to worry about?

If the public knew the scientific history of pesticides along with the powerful political and economic battles raged surrounding them, Americans would be aghast. The truth about these toxic chemicals is shocking yet these liquid, granular and powdered poisons lurk everywhere. In the air we breathe, in the products we use and in the food we eat. Not only are these contaminants incredibly toxic but the scariest part is they are pervasive to the point that it is almost impossible to completely avoid them. And the worst part is that the motivation for all this toxicity is monetary.

First of all, a brief history of pesticides… Man has been fighting against bugs since time began in the form of personal comfort (bed bugs, mosquitoes, etc.) and for destructive capabilities (crop damage, termites, etc.). Early preventive measures against insects included using plants and herbs for repellency and began to transform once Man discovered chemicals. The greatest shift in pesticides came after the engineering and scientific explosion of information generated during World War II when nerve gas was perfected.

Most synthetic pesticides on the market today are based on post war nerve gas technology. Scientists discovered that certain chemicals affect brain function and are therefore referred to as neuro-toxins. The effects can be immediate death, targeted to specific functions like digestion or reproduction to cause eventual death, or they can be slow, long-term effects on a cellular level that manifest over a period of time.

Because these neuro-toxins are synthetic, human bodies are not able to metabolize them. These substances enter a human body either through digestion, absorption or inhalation and remain in the body just like plastic will sit for centuries in a landfill. The human body does not have the capability to excrete them as they are not a natural substance so they accumulate in our tissues, in our cells, and in our organs.

So how exactly are we exposed to these chemical toxins? In an average day, Americans are bombarded with pesticides – often unknowingly. Exterminators apply odorless, colorless pesticides in public spaces like office buildings, schools, malls, theaters, grocery stores, etc. on an ongoing basis. As an example, your child’s school could have been treated in the early morning hours to make sure there is adequate drying time and then your son or daughter sits on the floor during circle time wallowing in the odorless fumes of pesticides.

The food we eat is full of pesticides. The most recent figures show that in the United States, more than 877 billion pounds of pesticides were used on crops in 2007 which represents almost 3000 pounds of pesticide per person. These pesticides are NOT just applied to the outer skin of crops which can be washed off – they are often put in the soil which then enters plants through the roots and becomes systemic meaning the pesticide is now inherent in the structure of the plant. You cannot wash that away! Unless you buy strictly organic, you are eating these pesticides.

What is causing this madness? In a word – money.

Obviously a farmer wants to increase crop yield so using pesticides can help make that happen. In theory, there is nothing wrong with a businessman trying to increase profits and I do not fault a Farmer from doing what he or she is assured is the best solution. But here is where this changes from ‘providing for your family’ to just plain wrong…

Farmers are smart people educated in the functions of farming which takes a great deal to balance well. Soil conditions, weather patterns, planting, harvesting, pests, weeds, crop rotation, micro-nutrients, and irrigation are just a sampling of what a farmer must juggle to take a seed to harvest. Each of these areas is broad and complex and produces a multitude of consultants and experts that Farmers rely on for the latest in technology and research. When a chemical company produces the latest, greatest, strongest and most capable pesticide for less money requiring fewer applications, a Farmer will be pleased. The Farmer improves crop yield and the chemical company sells more product. Everyone is happy, right?

Not so fast… What about the long term? What does this pesticide do to the crop that absorbs these toxins through the roots to infiltrate the cells of the fruit? What happens to the soil that is infiltrated with these synthetic chemicals that may take hundreds of years to breakdown? What about the unsuspecting parents buying this fruit and feeding it to their children who then ingest the pesticides to be stored in their tiny little bodies forever?

Well the long term IS manifesting itself in the form of disease – neurological based diseases such as Autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s; and degenerative diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease, and Diabetes. Birth Defects, Learning Disabilities, Depression and other Mental Health issues are all indisputably linked to pesticides. One of the most obvious cause and effect stories of pesticides and their potential damage is quite recent – the Department of Defense has admitted ‘The Gulf War illness is tied directly to the use of chemicals including pesticides’.

And now for the scariest truth about pesticides – they generate obscene profits which in turn buy enormous political influence which then protects the industry from scrutiny.

Political power for the wealthy is nothing new nor is it solely a problem in the world of chemical pesticides. However, we are dealing with the general public health which in the minds of many elevates the responsibility of government agencies to act wisely. To assume that government regulation means something is safe is incredibly naïve. Big chemical companies have enormous clout as well as extremely deep pockets to absorb any fines or fees associated with minor misdeeds like falsified data. Examples are numerous and the trend continues.

So should we be concerned about pesticides? ABSOLUTELY! And what is a Regular Joe to do about these pervasive poisons?

Get educated and demand answers. When and what do they spray at your child’s school? Is this organic or conventional produce? What are the ingredients in this product I am buying? And most of all – spread the word. An educated consumer is a powerful force to reckon with – and your future and that of your children depends on it!