Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pesticides Vs. Human Health: Pesticides Are Winning

Actions being taken to increase farm yields are bumping up against risks of those actions to human health.

From The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter:
"During the 1990s, the U.S. Geological Survey collected more than 8,000 water and fish samples across the country and analyzed them for 76 different pesticides. Some key findings were:
  • More than 90 percent of water and fish samples from all streams contained one, or more often several, pesticides.

  • About half of all groundwater samples contained one or more pesticides.

  • The highest rates of detection were for the most heavily used herbicides-atrazine, metolachlor, alachlor, and cyanazine-which were common in streams and shallow ground water in agricultural areas.

  • Levels of any individual pesticide exceeding drinking water guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency were found in only 1 percent of samples, but there is uncertainty about the risks of low-level exposure to multiple pesticides. Moreover, for about half the pesticides detected the EPA has not set any guidelines.

  • Close to half of the agricultural streams sampled had pesticide levels that exceeded Canadian guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. (The report referred to Canadian guidelines because there are no U.S. guidelines for this purpose.) Pesticides like DDT and Dieldrin, which have not been used since the 1960s, were still present across the country. DDT was found in almost every fish sample."
Chemical use in agriculture is getting out of hand. Singer and Mason say the use of pesticides, including insecticides and herbicides, more than doubled between 1937 and 1997. The pesticide load in our grandparents' bodies was presumably far less than that in our own. We have yet to document the fallout of this chemical onslaught, although the rise in obesity and diabetes rates is foreboding.
Photo of farm worker from Humboldt State University, California. Caption: "A farm worker sprays pesticides on newly planted strawberries on a farm along the Pacific Coast."
Speaking of strawberries, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says they are one of the most pesticide-laden fruits you can buy. (See: EWG Shoppers Guide)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pesticides are affecting lot of people such that people are using them to affect the people lives. Such that they are getting in the foods of the people and they are not good for health.