How much evidence is needed ? Study released on effects of low dose pesticide poisoning…NYC

 

April 5, 2016 | by Michael Howell | Bitterroot Star

Local wildlife rehabilitator Judy Hoy is one of the authors cited in a study recently published in the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine which claims to demonstrate that even low doses of glyphosates, a chemical ingredient in many pesticides, can be considered a serious health problem. Lead author of the study is Nancy Swanson, PhD from Abacus Enterprises in Washington state, and Stephanie Seneff, from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. The article is entitled: “Evidence that glyphosate is a causative agent in chronic sub-clinical metabolic acidosis and mitochondrial dysfunction.”

The article claims that it is a well-established fact that ingesting large amounts of glyphosate causes metabolic acidosis and other pathophysiologic changes. Clinical signs of acute glyphosate poisoning include severe acidosis determined by low blood pH, hyperkalemia, hypernatremia, raised creatinine and blood urea levels, hypotension, hypoxemia and reduced serum bicarbonate. Severe poisoning causes dehydration, pneumonitis, oliguria, altered level of consciousness, hepatic dysfunction, pulmonary edema and dysrhythmias 1, 2, 3.

The authors go on to claim, however, that available scientific reports and records from the CDC examined and compared in their study provide overwhelming “circumstantial evidence” that ingestion of glyphosates in low doses also has serious health effects which are being overlooked in toxicology evaluations and public policy.

“How much evidence is needed?” they ask in the article.

“Taken together, this evidence suggests that glyphosate, in the doses equivalent to allowed residues in food ingested over a long period of time, causes a low-grade, chronic acidosis as well as mitochondrial dysfunction,” states the study.

They also provide evidence from the literature supporting the biochemical pathways whereby this occurs by extracting the reports for symptoms and diseases associated with glyphosate from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System database. These are compared to the symptoms and diseases reported in the database for drugs that are known to cause mitochondrial dysfunction. They call the results “startlingly consistent.”

Finally, they hypothesize that many modern diseases are primarily acquired mitochondrial disorders caused by chemical pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, food additives and industrial chemicals.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Leading cause of death in Men is caused by Chagas Disease & Heart failure 

Chagas Disease affects approximately 20 million worldwide, killing 50,000 each year, yet is practically unknown to most in the general public in the US.

If infected, you may not even know initially you have Chagas disease. It can slowly destroy your internal organs, and if you do not die from the acute stage, can cause death in the chronic stage, 10-20 years later.

Chagas is spreading worldwide — due to lack of knowledge and indifference.

Endemic in 21 countries, with 18-20 million infected and another 120 million people at risk

25% of the population of Latin America is at risk of acquiring Chagas Disease

More than 100,000 Latin American immigrants living in the United States are chronically infected and a potential source of transmission of the disease by means of blood transfusions

The disease is lethal, especially for children, and debilitates patients for years.

Previously thought to be endemic in Mexico, South and Latin America, other areas of the world such as the US and Europe are considering testing all blood donations for the parasite, T. cruzi, for the parasite that causes the disease due to travel patterns and rural migrations of populations to urban areas. 

 Chest radiograph of a Bolivian patient with chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection, congestive heart failure, and rhythm disturbances. Pacemaker wires can be seen in the area of the left ventricle.

Infected triatomine bugs, that transmit T.cruzi, are found in North, Central and South America. Blood banks in selected cities of the continent vary between 3.0 and 53.0% -making the prevalence of T. cruzi infected blood higher than that of Hepatitis B, C, and HIV infection

In parts of South America, Chagas’ heart disease is the leading cause of death in men less than 45 years of age.

Blood transfusions in the US should be screened for antibodies to T.Cruzi; currently U.S. blood banks do not routinely conduct this screening.  

Numerous acute and chronic cases of the disease have been reported in domestic dogs in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia

It is not known how many dogs or humans in the US actually have the disease due to lack of testing and reporting

The disease may be transmitted by the bite of an infected triaomine, (reduviid, “kissing”, or “assassin”) bugs, or through blood transfusion or transplacentally

In Texas infection rates in kissing bugs are reported to be 17-48%, in other states infection rates may not be known due to lack of knowledge about the disease and inadequate studies with regards to sampling bugs for the disease

The kissing bugs, or carriers of this disease, could be as close as your backyard.

Posted in August 3, 2012 | by CHAGAS Disease Biology Blogspot

#SayNoToPesticides!

Deadly CHAGAS: An Emerging Infectious Disease Threat In U.S.

October 1, 2015 | by Judy Stone | Forbes

Chagas, a parasitic disease, is the latest invisible killer infection to be recognized as a growing threat here. The infection is transmitted by the Triatomine bug, known as the “kissing” bug. The bugs infect people through bites—often near the eyes or mouth—or when their infected feces are accidentally rubbed into eyes or mucous membranes. Some transmission occurs from mother to child during pregnancy. Occasionally, transmission is through contaminated food or drink.   Triatoma sanguisuga – CDC/James Gathany

Most people in the U.S. with Chagas disease probably became infected as children, living in Latin America. The infection often has few symptoms early on, but after several decades, strikes fatally, often with sudden death from heart disease. I suspect that, similar to Lyme disease, the magnitude of disease and deaths from the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease, is unrecognized in the U.S.

 2014 map of blood donors testing positive for CHAGAS disease. 

In Latin America, however, up to 12 million people might be infected, with a third going on to develop life-threatening heart complications. Chagas is a major cause of congestive heart failure and cardiac deaths, with an estimated 11,000 people dying annually, according to the WHO.

There are an estimated 300,167 people with Trypanosoma cruzi infection the U.S., including 40,000 pregnant women in North America. There are 30,000-45,000 cardiomyopathy cases and 63-315 congenital infections each year. Most of the people come from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or Argentina; Bolivia has the highest rate of Chagas in the world.

But in the U.S., we don’t often think of Chagas. Even as an infectious disease physician, I’ve never treated anyone with it, and it is not on my radar. So when a physician sees a patient who may have come to the U.S. as a child, and now has diabetes and hypertension, he or she is likely to attribute the heart disease to that and not look for infection. In fact, though, there are large pockets of undiagnosed disease. For example, a survey in Los Angeles of patients with a new diagnosis of cardiomyopathy who had lived in Latin America for at least a year, found 19% had Chagas disease, and they had a worse prognosis than those without the infection.

There are other reasons Chagas is overlooked. One is that Chagas is not a reportable disease except in four states, and Texas only began reporting in 2010. Most cases here have been detected by screening of blood donations, which has found about 1 in every 27,500 donors to be infected, according to CDC. However, a 2014 survey showed “one in every 6,500 blood donors tested positive for exposure to the parasite that causes Chagas disease.” A map of positive donations is here. While the triatome bugs are most common in the southern half of the U.S., they are actually quite widespread, as shown here.
Much bigger barriers to diagnosis are social and cultural. Many patients lack health insurance. Others are undocumented immigrants fearing deportation. Health literacy and language barriers are huge. There is a stigma associated with the diagnosis, as there is for many patients with TB, as Chagas is associated with poverty and poor living conditions. As Daisy Hernández noted in her excellent story in the Atlantic, “it’s hard, if not impossible, for moms with Chagas and no health insurance to see the doctors who would connect them to the CDC” and “patients don’t necessarily have savings in case they have adverse reactions to the medication and can’t work.”

There are pockets of Chagas in the states, including Los Angeles, the Washington metropolitan area, and the Texas border, where there are large immigrant communities from endemic areas. But I suspect that with climate change, we’ll see more Chagas in the southwest U.S., as more triatomine bugs are found further north. One recent study found more than 60% of the collected bugs carried the Trypanosome parasite, up from 40-50% in two similar studies. There are also now seven reports of Chagas infection that are clearly autochthonous, or locally acquired. University of Pennsylvania researcher Michael Levy has shown that bedbugs might be capable of transmitting Chagas, but no one has shown that they actually do. Entomologist and Wired author Gwen Pearson nicely explains why bedbugs are an unlikely vector and notes that you “far more likely to be injured by misusing pesticides to try to exterminate” them.

There’s more bad news. Treatment for Chagas is effective if given early in infection, although with significant side effects. There is no effective treatment for late stages of gastrointestinal or cardiac disease. A newly released study showed that benznidazole was no more effective than placebo in reducing cardiac complications, even though it reduced levels of parasites in the blood.

   Trypanasoma cruzi parasite in heart tissue – CDC

The two drugs available to treat Chagas, benznidazole and nifurtimox, are not yet FDA approved and are only available through the CDC under investigational protocols. Both carry significant side effects. Treatment of children with early Chagas is generally effective but, as with many drugs, treatment is hampered by lack of data on pediatric dosing and limited formulations. There is little research funding for new drug development, with less than US $1 million (0.04% of R&D funding dedicated to neglected diseases) focused on new drugs for Chagas disease, according to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).

Where do we go from here? The most immediate and cost-effective proposals are to increase surveillance for disease and screening of high-risk populations. Since the most effective treatment is given early in the course of infection, screening of pregnant women and children is a priority, as is education for these women and Ob-Gyn physicians.
While there is no effective treatment for advanced disease, efforts are underway to develop a vaccine against Chagas. The National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine just received a boost from a $2.6 million grant from the Carlos Slim Foundation for their initiative.

Chagas, like sickle cell, highlights disparities in access to screening and early treatment for serious illnesses disproportionately affecting the poor and people of color. While a moral and ethical issue, the choices made to gut public health programs for “cost saving” will also be unnecessarily costly in the end.

#SayNoToPesticides!

BedBugs Destroyed My Life – “Don’t Bring Them Home!”

  
March 19, 2016 | by Maryam Shah | Toronto Sun

She may be the unluckiest renter in Toronto.
Kathleen says bedbugs have forced her to move 11 times in the past six years.

The 45-year-old doesn’t even want her last name used because she says she’s already lost one job over the tiny critters.

“I was a normal person, I had a job and a nice apartment and this has completely broken my life,” she said.

She claims she first picked them up in 2010 after volunteering at a community centre in Regent Park.

That marked the beginning of a “downward spiral.”

Kathleen says she lost her job because she “made the mistake” of coming clean with her employers.

“I literally walked away with nothing but my health card in some cases, just trying to completely rid myself of them, only to end up in other buildings that were also infested,” she explained.

Now she lives outside of Toronto and wants all three levels of government — and the scientific community — to recognize bedbugs are a “national crisis.”

That’s why she spent Friday with placards outside City Hall, demanding more action in the battle against bedbugs.

“I went through all the proper protocol,” Kathleen said. “This isn’t a landlord and tenant issue anymore.”

She even had a friend — a private landlord from St. Catharines — dress up like a brown bedbug called Badness the Bedbug, which attracted curious looks from passersby.

The city’s website says if a landlord refuses to help with bedbugs, the tenant can contact a legal clinic, the landlord and tenant board, or Toronto Public Health.

#SayNoToPesticides!

New Study Suggests Even the Toughest Pesticide Regulations Aren’t Nearly Tough Enough

As in most states, regulators in California measure the effect of only one pesticide at a time. But farmers often use several pesticides together—and that’s a big, toxic problem.

“Acting together, these effects multiply. So even pesticides that don’t cause cancer on their own might do so together by interfering with or overwhelming the body’s ability to clear toxic substances, or harming DNA and then blocking mechanisms to repair it.”

February 23, 2016 | by Liza Gross | The Nation

California officials have long touted their pesticide regulations as the toughest in the nation. But a new report from the University of California, Los Angeles, reveals a major flaw in the state’s approach to evaluating safety, one that has broad implications for the way pesticides are regulated nationally: Regulators assess pesticide safety one product at a time, but growers often apply pesticides as mixtures. That’s a serious problem, the authors argue, because pesticide interactions can ratchet up toxic effects, greatly enhancing the risk of cancer and other serious health conditions.

“The federal EPA and California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) have not adequately dealt with interactive effects,” says John Froines, a report coauthor and a chemist with decades of experience assessing health risks of toxic chemicals as a scientist and regulator. “People are exposed to a large number of chemicals. You can’t simply look chemical by chemical to adequately address the toxicity of these compounds.”

Fumigants, used to combat a range of pests and diseases, are among the most toxic chemicals used in agriculture. They are a staple of high-value crops like tomatoes and strawberries. Studies in humans and animals have linked them to acute respiratory and skin damage and serious chronic health problems, including cancer and neurological and reproductive disorders.

To get around the state’s failure to collect data on cumulative exposures to these fumigants, Froines and his colleagues drew on what’s known about the chemical and biological properties of three of the most heavily used fumigants in California: chloropicrin, Telone (the trade name for 1,3-dichloropropene), and metam sodium.

Individual fumigants are highly reactive chemicals that damage DNA and interfere with proteins that perform critical cell functions. Acting together, these effects multiply. So even pesticides that don’t cause cancer on their own might do so together by interfering with or overwhelming the body’s ability to clear toxic substances, or harming DNA and then blocking mechanisms to repair it.

These interactive effects would not be detected in studies of individual pesticides.

Pesticide regulators are aware of the report, says California DPR spokesperson Charlotte Fadipe, but adds that the agency rarely comments on such studies because “the information often lacks the extensive rigorous science for a regulatory department to make regulations.” What’s more, she notes, “DPR has the most protective and robust pesticide program in the country.”

Froines, who served as director of the Office of Toxic Substances at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Jimmy Carter and has led several scientific review panels at the state’s request to assess chemical toxicity, has revealed flaws in pesticide regulations before. In 2010, he headed a California scientific review panel that deemed chloropicrin—one of the fumigants studied in the current report—a “potent carcinogen.” State officials ignored the panel’s advice and decided the evidence was ambiguous. The same year, he chaired another review panel that called the fumigant methyl iodide a “highly toxic chemical” that poses a serious threat to public health. This time, manufacturers withdrew the product from the market.

With few restrictions on combining pesticides, growers often use multiple-chemical formulations or apply different fumigants to adjoining fields or in close succession. That exposes people who live, work, and go to school near these fields to several fumigants at once, despite growing evidence that these chemical concoctions pose even greater health risks.

As reported by the Food & Environment Reporting Network and The Nation last April, residents of Oxnard, a strawberry-growing stronghold in Southern California where most residents are Latino, had worried for years about the risks of heavy exposure to fumigants.

Rio Mesa High School students were twice as likely as white kids to go to schools near heavy fumigant use. And though regulators admitted as much in addressing a complaint filed by several parents, they did little to restrict fumigant use near schools. In fact, the year after EPA officials dismissed the families’ complaint, growers dramatically increased their use of toxic fumigants around Rio Mesa.

Less than a month after the Nation story ran, the Department of Pesticide Regulation announced it would revisit restrictions on pesticide use near schools after seeking public input through statewide workshops. Officials promised to deliver new rules last December, then pushed back the date, saying they hadn’t reviewed all the public comments. DPR spokesperson Fadipe says they’re still working on draft regulations but can’t say for sure when they’ll issue the draft rules.

The UCLA report shows that going to school at Rio Mesa still poses a health risk. The authors used standard EPA air dispersion models and pesticide use data collected by state regulators to simulate likely fumigant dispersion patterns around the school. They chose Rio Mesa in part because an on-site air monitor shows that fumigants are escaping into the air. As expected, their modeling results show that overlapping exposures occur at Rio Mesa—two years after EPA dismissed community concerns—and at other locations, including schools and daycare centers.

These results underscore the importance of establishing no-spray zones around schools and other sensitive sites as soon as possible, activists say.

“This new report on fumigants is a stark reminder that regulatory agencies have largely failed to regulate toxic chemicals,” says Bruce Lanphear, professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and an expert on the impacts of toxic exposures on the developing brain who was not involved in the report. “We are all exposed to a cocktail of dozens, if not hundreds of chemicals, which can have similar detoxification mechanisms and modes of action.”

Regulators must consider synergistic effects of pesticides in risk assessments, the authors say. They contend that a California law requires state agencies to consider cumulative impacts and that interactive effects from pesticides fall under that law. They urge state officials to make several changes to pesticide regulations to uphold their mission to protect public health.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Sunland Pest Control (contracted by Terminix) fumigators hit with federal charges after poisoning of 10 year old Peyton McCaughey

picture by PEYTON MCCAUGHEY

10 year old Peyton McCaughey

January 19, 2016 | FOX News WFLX29

PALM CITY, Fla. – Sunland Pest Control, the company subcontracted by Terminix to fumigate the Palm City home of Peyton McCaughey in August, has been charged with two federal crimes.

The charging documents submitted by the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida list Sunland Pest Control, owner Grenale Williams and employee Canarie Deon Curry.

Count one is “Using a restricted use pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”

The charging document says Sunland failed “to have two persons trained in the use of restricted use pesticides,” “to aerate the fumigated space” and to “conduct a required clearance” with an approved and properly calibrated detection device.”

Count two is “False Statement.” The charging document says during the investigation by Florida’s Department of Agriculture into the fumigation at the McCaughey home Sunland claimed the pesticide “Vikane was used, when in truth and in fact, a different restricted use pesticide, Zythor, was used.”

It also says Sunland claimed that all label requirements of the pesticide were followed when “as the defendant then and there well knew, the label requirements were not followed.”

Count one carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Count two carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The crimes Sunland Pest Control is charged with left Peyton McCaughey with “severe brain damage” according to his parents.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Should fliers worry about pesticide spraying on planes?

Such “disinfection” occurs every day [airline passengers being sprayed with pesticides before flights] in countries all around the world. And, yes, even U.S. airlines engage in certain forms of the practice, though usually spraying is not done when passengers are onboard. As for the debate over the potential dangers of spraying vs. the potential dangers of airborne diseases? It’s an issue many affected passengers clearly need to know more about—prior to booking.

To spray or not to spray

It can be disconcerting to suddenly be sprayed with pesticides while locked in a pressurized tube. I’ve experienced this myself in several countries, most recently four years ago in India. Conversely, we’ve seen time and again how quickly air travel can allow insect vectors to transmit such deadly diseases as malaria and yellow fever. There is a need for greater information about both types of dangers.

The methods used to disinsect can vary by destination and airline. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations-chartered International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have established two primary methods: 1) spraying aerosol insecticides in the cabin while passengers are onboard, and 2) treating the airplane’s interior surfaces with a residual insecticide when passengers are not onboard. A third method—often used in Panama and American Samoa—is to spray the cabin when passengers are not on board.

If you’ll be flying internationally and you’d like to know more about airline policies on pesticides, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides a detailed overview of what to expect at “Aircraft Disinsection Requirements.” This page, which was recently updated, states the following countries currently require aerosol spraying of in-bound flights while passengers are onboard:

• Cuba
• Ecuador (Galapagos and Interislands only)
• Grenada
• India
• Kiribati
• Madagascar
• Seychelles
• Trinidad and Tobago
• Uruguay

Furthermore, the following countries require residual treatments or spraying when passengers are not onboard for all in-bound flights:

• Australia
• Barbados
• Cook Islands
• Fiji
• Jamaica
• New Zealand

In addition, there are other nations—including several popular destinations for tourists—that require disinsection on selected flights from certain locations. You should learn more if you’re flying into these countries from potentially infected areas:

• Czech Republic
• France
• Indonesia
• Mauritius
• South Africa
• Switzerland
• United Kingdom

Are there risks?

If you’re concerned about disinsection, individual governments and airlines are key sources for further information. And you may want to consider the primer for air travelers provided by WHO. In 1995, WHO issued a report stating aircraft disinsection performed properly should be encouraged: “Although some individuals may experience transient discomfort following aircraft disinsection by aerosol application, there is no objection to any of the recommended methods of aircraft disinsection from a toxicological perspective.”

However, asthma sufferers are among those who should be aware of such “transient discomfort.” In 2010 the International Society of Travel Medicine published a detailed report on this topic.

WHO’s optimism did little to allay many fears. In fact, such concerns are not new, and date back decades; for years now environmentalists, medical professionals, academics and media outlets have questioned using pesticides inside cramped and sealed aircraft cabins. And travel blogs are filled with strongly worded opinions on the potential dangers. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details concerns for aircrew members as part of its workplace safety initiative. Such concerns also can affect frequent fliers facing higher exposure to pesticides.

In 2012, two academics released “Quantifying Exposure to Pesticides on Commercial Aircraft,” a detailed report funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). After examining aircraft cabins and flight crews, the report concluded: “This study documents that flight attendants on commercial aircrafts disinsected with pyrethroid insecticides are exposed to pesticides at levels that result in elevated body burden and internal accumulation comparable to pesticide applicators, exceeding levels in the general U.S. population. It is expected that flying public would be similarly exposed to pesticides on those flights.”

Similar warnings have long been voiced by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), which represents almost 60,000 cabin crew at 19 airlines, and offers detailed reading on this topic. A spokeswoman for AFA says the union still has health concern about disinsection, noting: “AFA worked tirelessly to get the FAA Reauthorization bill two years ago to include a requirement for airlines to let passengers know that they’ll be sprayed with pesticides when they buy a ticket to certain countries. This legislation was passed, but the DOT hasn’t yet turned the legislation into a regulation.”

AFA also recommends alternatives to spraying, and supports the use of non-chemical means of disinsection, such as “air blowers at the passenger boarding door and specialized net curtains over the cabin service doors.” The spokeswoman says, “These options were initiated by AFA in 2003 and promoted by the DOT and [U.S. Department of Agriculture], but the momentum has slowed in recent years,” due to a lack of funding. Ultimately, AFA suggests alternatives to spraying will not come from the airlines, but must be regulated by the DOT.

Check with your carrier

While policies on disinsection are established by government agencies, individual airlines implement the methodologies. Some major international carriers—such as Air Canada, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic—provide details on their specific policies or links to the DOT’s overview. But you should contact your carrier if you have unanswered questions.

I reached out to the Big Three U.S. major network airlines—American, Delta and United—and asked about their specific policies. All claim they do not spray with passengers onboard:

• American states it only disinsects on aircraft operating to Port of Spain. A spokesman explains: “Spraying is done during overnight cleans for the aircraft. Maintenance clears the planes for up to two hours until it’s safe to re-enter.” Passengers with any questions are advised to contact Ryan Correa at ryan.correa@aa.com.

• Delta states that “spraying is performed without passengers or crew members onboard,” either prior to boarding or after deplaning. A source at Delta advises the two primary destinations for disinsection are Australia and Chile, although it occurs “occasionally” in West Africa.

• United states the carrier “carefully follows” all entry requirements for the nations it serves, and aircraft disinsection is required in some countries. However, the airline states: “No destination that United serves requires routine spraying while passengers and crew are on board.”

Proponents of current aircraft disinsection policies note that failing to address airborne disease is unthinkable, while those worried about harmful side effects recommend alternative methodologies. What seems clear is far too many airline passengers are unaware of such issues until they are faced with mandatory spraying, so the need for greater education is apparent. Even The Science Babe and The Food Babe could probably agree on that.

30-60,000 – Americans Die Each Year from Pesticide Exposure

counter_punch                                          

Pesticides, Clinton-Style Politics and Acceptable Death

pesticidesprayIn 1900, cancer killed three people in America out of every hundred. Today, it’s 33 out of every 100–more than one-in-four Americans die from cancer. These figures come from Dr. Joseph Weissman, a professor of medicine at UCLA. Weissman reckons that a fair slice of this explosion in cancer mortality can be laid at the door of petro-chemicals, particularly those used by the food industry.

On August 1, 1996, the same day Bill Clinton announced his decision to sign the welfare bill, Congress passed–with the White House’s glowing approval–the Food Quality Protection Act. In the House, the vote was unanimous. In the Senate, only one voice was raised against its passage. In consequence, a decades years down the road, Dr. Weissman or his co-researchers will have to recalibrate their numbers, for the worse. You wouldn’t know it from the papers, from the radio, or from TV, but this Food Quality Protection Act signals a retreat as momentous as the one on welfare, and once again, children will be paying much of the price.

The purpose of this bill, which was cosponsored by Rep. Thomas Bliley and Rep. Tom DeLay, respectively a mortician from Virginia and pest exterminator from Texas, was to overturn the Delaney Clause, in force since the 1950s and the only absolute prohibition against carcinogens in processed foods. This clause has been the target of the food industry since it became law. It was finally done in by the usual coalition: business lobbyists, the White House, PR firms, big green organizations, and the elite media.

Immediately after the Congress passed the bill, Clinton took to the airwaves on his Saturday radio show to commend the Republican Congress for rejecting “extremism on both sides” and finding the “common ground.” “I call this the Peace of Mind Act,” Clinton went on, “because parents will know that the fruits, grains, and vegetables children eat are safe. Chemicals can go a long way in a small body.”

But by throwing out the Delaney Clause, the federal government simply abandoned any effort to prevent cancer provoked by pesticides and instead goes into the cancer management business by way of “risk assessment.” Corporate and governmental statisticians will broker the “acceptable” number of people permitted to contract cancer from pesticide residues, comforted in the knowledge that most of these people will be poor and black or Hispanic. To put it another way, the government regulators are now set to determine how many people may be sacrificed in order for the food and chemical industries to make more money with fewer liabilities.

Amid all the talk about returning decision-making to the states, the new law explicitly prohibits states from adopting tougher safety standards than those required by the federal government. With the Delaney Clause dead on the floor of Congress, some 80 pesticides that were about to be outlawed as carcinogens will now remain in use. Call it the Dow-Monsanto bail-out bill, since these two companies make most of the chemical killers that were on the list to be banned.

The present calculation by the National Academy of Sciences is that between 30,000 and 60,000 people die each year from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. Those at highest risk are children. The Academy’s study found that for some children, “exposures to just five pesticides found on eight foods could be sufficiently high enough to produce symptoms of acute organophosphate pesticide poisoning.” Another recent report cautions that by an average child’s first birthday, the infant has been exposed to more than eight carcinogenic pesticides in amounts that exceed the previous standards set for a lifetime of exposure.

The new standards for “acceptable risk” are set by the EPA, operating on recommendations of the food industry lobbyists, based on research from chemical industry scientists. “The new law brazenly codifies how many people the food industry can kill with pesticides,” said Patty Clary, director of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. “About as many a year as went down on Flight 800, per chemical.” Clary adds that the Food Quality Protection Act doesn’t even address the topic of synergy, the toxic multiplier effect that occurs when more than one pesticide is involved.

Scientific research has shown that a cocktail mix of pesticides such as dieldrin, chlordane, and endosulfan is 1,600 times more toxic than the discrete chemicals administered separately. Dieldrin and chlordane are banned chemicals that persist in the environment at dramatic levels. Endosulfan remains in wide use. All are known to be endocrine disrupters and are linked to breast and uterine cancers, birth defects, and infertility.

This chemical soup is what children will now go on eating everyday in products like raisins that are marketed directly at kids. “Chemicals go a long way in a small body,” Clinton said. He could have been more specific. The new law now ensures that when children eat strawberries, they will also be ingesting the deadly chemical residue left by benamyl, captan, and methyl bromide. The average apple and peach has eight different pesticides embedded in it. Grapes have six and celery five. Children get as much as 35 percent of their likely lifetime dose of such toxins by the time they are five. Thus, something intrinsically bad is happening at the worst possible time, when DNA transcription is still going on.

With the new pesticide law giving agribusiness the green light–within the flexible parameters of risk assessment–there’s now scant incentive to transfer to other methods of ensuring high productivity in fields and orchards. But pesticides become less effective the more they are used. American farmers sprayed 33 percent more pesticides per acre in 1990 than they did in 1945. Over the same 45-year period, crop losses from pests increased from 31 to 37 percent. The response has been ever-greater dosings with pesticides. Addiction to chemical-intensive agriculture has become so acute that bio-engineers at the Monsanto Corporation have concocted “Round-Up Ready” soybeans. It is a deadly circle of poisons.

The risks from chemical-intensive agriculture come not only in the food, but also in the application of the pesticides, mostly in the form of aerial spraying. The federal Office of Technology Assessment reckons that more than 40 percent of the pesticides dumped by planes drifts off the target area, ending up in streams, schoolyards, and neighborhoods. Fluorescent tracers have shown that it takes only a moderate breeze to carry poisons such as 2,4-D and paraquat 20 to 50 miles. One study found poisons such as toxaphene, furan, and dioxin in the mud on the bottom of Lake Siskiwit, on Isle Royale–a wilderness island in the middle of Lake Superior. The pesticides had been wind-carried there over more than 200 miles.

Workers are always the first to pay the price. In central Washington last in 1995, 55 workers in an apple orchard became seriously ill after the wind shifted and they became exposed to the pesticide carbaryl. The EPA and the chemical industry claim that the regulations for the use of such pesticides will prevent any adverse health consequences. In their idyllic scheme, harvesting spraying takes place in perfect windless weather, with workers decked out in the latest protective gear and with detailed warning labels emblazoned on the poison brews. Real life in the fields means planes dumping clouds of pesticide in the wrong place at the wrong time, no protective clothing, poisons mixed with bare hands, workers uninformed about the dangers of the chemicals they are told to handle. The instructions for the use of pesticides are usually printed only in English, while most field workers are Spanish-speaking.

This Food Quality Protection Act is the consummation of a campaign by the food and chemical industries that has stretched over decades, ever since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring alerted the public to chemical poisoning back in the 1950s. The Delaney Clause found its defenders in the National Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Food & Water, Environmental Research Foundation, Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet, Cancer Prevention Coalition, and dozens of grassroots groups across the country such as Californians for Alternatives to Toxics.

the end, they were no match for the forces arrayed against them. As Clinton signed the fatal bill into law, with a youngster (one-in-four chances of croaking from cancer) at his elbow, Katie McGinty, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, hailed the act as the dawning of a new age of environmentalism. “I truly believe that the president will go down in history for having put in place a new generation of environmentalism, based on cooperation, not confrontation; defining and securing the common ground, defining the common interest, not the special interest.” McGinty should know all about special interests. At an earlier stage of her career, before she began ministering to Al Gore, McGinty was a lobbyist for the American Chemical Association.

But why wasn’t there a fight from the big green groups inside the Beltway over Delaney? Kurt Davies, of the DC-based Environmental Working Group, which backed the awful bill, says it was about political realism. “An idealist would interpret the loss of Delaney as a retreat from environmental protection,” Davies said. “But realistically, Delaney was going and keeping it just wasn’t a tenable battle. We just didn’t have the voice. We weren’t getting the thousands of letters needed to the Hill. Without that, it was just bending to the enemy.”

Of course, the reason those letters weren’t coming in to congressional offices was that the big green organizations had long since decided to give in on Delaney, trade it off in the interests of “realism.” Organizations such as the unabashedly pro-corporate Environmental Defense Fund even attacked Delaney as an inefficient barrier to flexible environmental regulation. Groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation actually joined with lobbyists from Dow and Monsanto in testimony supporting the bill as a “sensible solution that goes a long way toward protecting the health of consumers.”

Michael Colby, at the Vermont-based Food & Water group, pithily called this surrender “a classic case of activist malpractice. These organizations back legislation that gives corporations the right to pollute at the expense of the public health, while promoting the law as an improvement. Meanwhile, citizens are left to face the onslaught of more cancer risks, states are held hostage to weaker federal health standards, and the chemical companies and big environmental groups are laughing all the way to the bank.”

This piece is adapted from a chapter in Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

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