The evils of pesticides
A pesticide is a “chemical preparation to destroy pests, also called a biocide, which is “any chemical that destroys life by poisoning.” The definition of poison is “a substance to destroy life or health.” Why pesticides are they bad?they are synthetic (not naturally occurring) chemical poisoning and deterioration of the health of the entire Earth, including man himself.
Man vs. Plague has been a battle from the start. The story has many references to plagues and infestations, even the hieroglyphic drawings in the caves illustrate frustrations with plagues. Here we are thousands of years and lots of scientific breakthroughs later and the battle is still going on.
Most pesticides in use today are modeled after nerve gas technology developed during World War II. These synthetic chemicals are neurotoxins that attack the central nervous system and affect internal communication with the brain.
Some pesticides affect reproduction, others affect the ability to eat, but the most common are those that affect voluntary and involuntary movements. The frightening fact about these man-made toxins is that because they are not natural, they persist in our bodies and in our water and become more concentrated as you move up the food chain.
Swiss chemist Paul Mueller discovered DDT for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1948. DDT enjoyed widespread use until the truth came out. The deadly effects of DDT were concentrating to the point that many species were on the brink of extinction, most notably our national symbol, the bald eagle. So, in 1972, DDT was banned in the United States. But was the danger gone? Not even close.
Research for new synthetic pesticides has been to provide faster results, greater persistence (sticks around to continue killing pests), and consequently higher toxicity levels. New chemical poisons are in demand because pesticides lose their effectiveness due to pesticide resistance, a fascinating biological phenomenon. When a pest population is exposed to a pesticide, a certain percentage will survive. When they reproduce, they pass that immunity on to their offspring. As pests often have several generations in a short time, eventually the entire population is immune and the pesticide once used for control is now useless.
The solution has been to rotate different toxic synthetic chemicals with more frequent applications but still producing the same resistance to pesticides. Now these pests are immune to multiple pesticides and therefore even more difficult to control. No matter how lethal the dose or whatever the mode of action, pesticide resistance will always occur when synthetic pesticides are used. So we have created super pests that are immune to controls, but are bioaccumulating the poisons used to treat them.
The United Nations adopted an environmental treaty known as the Stockholm Convention that calls for global action to eradicate the planet’s 21 deadliest chemicals, defined as “chemicals that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food chain and present the risk of causing harmful effects to human health and the environment”. One of these poisons is lindane. Inexplicably, certain chemicals on this most toxic list have ‘exemptions’ and the exemption for lindane reads: Human Health Pharmaceutical Product for Lice Control. So one of the most dangerous chemicals on the planet is okay to spread all over my son’s head?
Where is our protection? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the government agency charged with protecting us and our environment, but it receives no government funding. That? Instead, the EPA’s 17,000 employees are funded by the big chemical companies whose products want to be registered by the EPA. How’s that for the fox who guards the chicken coop?
Many people mistakenly believe that if a product is registered with the EPA then it is safe. That is absolutely false. The ONLY products the EPA registers are those whose active ingredients are known poisons, toxins, or carcinogens. If a product is safe, it is exempt from registration. Make no mistake about it: if a product has an EPA registration number, it is dangerous.
Chemical companies pay the EPA millions of thousands of dollars per product to determine the maximum acceptable levels of exposure to the toxic active ingredient. Exposure levels are based on a 180 pound man. These are maximum safe exposure levels, which means that anything above this level can cause harm. Therefore, the exposure of a young developing child is not taken into account, but is lumped together in the safe exposure levels for adults.
Here’s the scariest part of all: Inert, other, or inactive ingredients listed on a label aren’t tested. or even documented. They are considered “trade secrets” and no one has any idea what is being used. These ingredients can be much more dangerous than the active ingredients! They change due to market conditions, so if you’ve been using Frontline on your dog for years and after one treatment, he suddenly gets chemical burns, has difficulty breathing, has seizures, or even dies, everyone is stumped, how can this be? ? It’s because of the ‘other’ ingredients that may have been $.02 a barrel cheaper during manufacturing.
What kind of effects do pesticides have on us today? That’s simple – disease.
Pesticides can affect the endocrine system, which is reproduction. Diagnoses of breast and prostate cancer have increased. Pesticides can affect the gastrointestinal systems. Diagnoses of colon cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and irritable bowel syndrome have increased. Pesticides most often affect the brain function of victims. Diagnoses of autism (500% increase), ADHD (381% increase), and Alzheimer’s (300% increase) have skyrocketed in recent decades. Chemical companies deny these claims saying they are due to an aging population, a larger population hence higher incidences and more comprehensive diagnostic tools. However, science has come another way. The EPA reported a direct link between ADHD and pesticides, and the US Department of Defense admitted that Gulf War Syndrome is attributed to chemicals, including pesticide exposure. Because research is funded by those who manufacture them, little research has been done on the potential harm from the long-term cumulative effects of pesticides, as it can bring negative truths to light.
The reason we get diseases from pesticides is because they cannot be metabolized, they persist within our tissue. Synthetic pesticides to the human body are like plastic to a landfill: they never break down. They bioaccumulate in our tissue, so we constantly increase our own level of toxicity. We inhale, absorb, and ingest pesticides in many forms from the food we eat, the products we use, and the tasteless, odorless vapors from chemical killers applied in our schools, our businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, and even hospitals. Going back to the example of the use of lindane for the treatment of head lice, which is one of the deadliest substances identified on Earth that is smeared on the scalp, which is the skin (the largest organ in the body), full of pores and openings of the hair shaft for a toxic chemical to enter the body… and stay in the body.
The use of natural, organic or green pest control has been dismissed as nothing more than good intentions and that the stronger the chemical and the more frequent the application, the better. This is particularly true for those in the pesticide production or application business. Recognizing that a natural product is competent is in direct juxtaposition with the goal of selling synthetic chemicals for a profit. And those gains are huge.
The pest control services industry is a $6.5 billion a year (2008) industry in the United States and is expected to double in size by 2015. That’s impressive compared to agrochemical manufacturers: who make these pesticides are $34 billion a year. industry of the year The top six producers in order are Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto and DuPont with the bottom three being all US companies. Add these up and more than $40 billion in pesticide revenue is used in our world each year.
As awareness of being ‘green’, ‘ecological’ and ‘sustainable’ grows, many people deserve praise for their part in caring for the Earth. However, those just beginning their consciousness are being taken advantage of by those in search of healthy gains. As an example, the next time you’re at the grocery store, look at the pest repellent products. Much of the labeling is in green with images of happy children with small pets or healthy couples walking in nature. The buzzwords of ‘safe’, ‘green’ and ‘natural’ dominate and the artwork has been further simplified as to indicate simpler products. Yes of course. Perception is reality, so consumers are fooled into thinking they are making wise and environmentally responsible choices. Look at labels and you’ll find the EPA registration number, the small percentage of active ingredient (or lethal poison), and the large percentage of ‘other’, ‘inert’ or ‘inactive’ ingredients that are the great unknown toxicant.
What is known is that pesticides are poisons that bioaccumulate in living tissue. Due to resistance to pesticides, pests become immune, so pesticides must become stronger and increase concentrations in our bodies. The EPA registration process is to prevent tolerable levels of toxins from being exceeded rather than encourage safe options. Manufacturers are allowed to use any inactive ingredient they choose without guidance or supervision. Pesticides affect pest reproduction, the gastrointestinal and nervous systems of pests, and these target areas have seen an increase in human disease in recent decades. Large agrochemical manufacturers and exterminators enjoy large revenues and profits based on the sale and application of toxicants. Their extensive lobbying and advertising presence continues to extol the virtues of their synthetic chemicals and dismiss truly natural products as ineffective and naive.
There are options Natural options that work, are not poisons, do not cause disease, and pests cannot become resistant. Nature has proven to be far superior to man’s attempt to control it and to assume that man can create something better is arrogance at the highest level.
Educate yourself, get informed and speak up. Insist that your child’s school does not use conventional toxic pesticides. Require that your food sources be organic and that your pest control company use a true ‘green’ product. Definitely make changes to your own home to control pests safely and with better results. At the very least, find out the extermination schedule in the areas where he lives and works just to prove to yourself how prevalent pesticide woes are in his daily life. Slowly poisoning ourselves and the environment is a disaster fueled by greed and it’s up to the people to stop the runaway train.