By Dr. Mercola
In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that large-scale, chemical-based agriculture is posing an outright threat to the world’s food supply. Its dangers now far outpace any benefits that might be had in terms of efficiency.
As recently reported by The Guardian,1 an international team of scientists has concluded that pesticide regulations have “failed to prevent poisoning of almost all habitats,” thereby putting global food production at great risk.
Indeed, the insanity is such that you more or less have to be a sociopath to insist on business as usual in light of the ravaging harm agricultural chemicals are causing.
It’s a completely unsustainable model for food production, as a toxic environment is not going to permit us to grow anything but toxic food; and that’s if anything will grow at all! As noted in the featured article:
“[C]reatures essential to global food production – from bees to earthworms – are likely to be suffering grave harm and the chemicals must be phased out.”
Task Force on Systemic Pesticides Issues Stern Warning
The four-year long assessment,2 performed by 29 international researchers, focused on the environmental effects of a class of systemic insecticides known as neonicotinoids.
Each year, farmers spend $2.6 billion (£1.53 billion) on the routine application of these insecticides. This despite “a striking lack of evidence” that these chemicals actually increase crop yields. According to Jean-Marc Bonmatin of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS):3
“The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT.
Far from protecting food production, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it.”
The infrastructure he’s referring to are the pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, without which three-quarters of our food crops cannot grow. Worms and microorganisms in the soil are equally important for food production, and pesticides are taking a heavy toll on them, too.
Besides harming the infrastructure that makes food production possible, neonicotinoids also poison every single creature, large or small, that feeds on the directly treated or indirectly contaminated plant. The toxic fallout created by agricultural chemicals also affects the human population.
The Pesticide-Autism Link
Organophosphate pesticides are known for their hazards to human health. Prenatal exposure, for example, has already been linked to delayed brain development, reduced IQ, and attention deficits.
I’ve also pointed out the compelling links between agricultural chemicals and autism, and new research (known as the CHARGE study4, 5) shows that living within a mile of pesticide-treated crops increases your chances of bearing children with autism. As reported by Scientific American:6
“The study of 970 children, born in farm-rich areas of Northern California, is part of the largest project to date that is exploring links between autism and environmental exposures. [It is] the third project to link prenatal pesticide exposures to autism and related disorders.
‘The weight of evidence is beginning to suggest that mothers’ exposures during pregnancy may play a role in the development of autism spectrum disorders,’ said Kim Harley, an environmental health researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the new study...
[C]hildren with mothers who lived less than one mile from fields treated with organophosphate pesticides during pregnancy were about 60 percent more likely to have autism than children whose mothers did not live close to treated fields.” [Emphasis mine]
Is There Such a Thing as a Safe Toxin?
The CHARGE study linked different pesticides to different rates of risks, but across the board, the risk of autism was significantly increased by close proximity to pesticide-treated fields.
- Proximity to fields treated with chlorpyrifos during the second trimester resulted in a 3.3 times greater risk of having an autistic child. (Chlorpyrifos is the most commonly applied organophosphate pesticide. It’s banned for home garden use, due to health risks, but is still permitted in farming)
- Exposure to pyrethroids shortly prior to conception increased a woman’s risk of having an autistic child by 82 percent
- Exposure to pyrethroids during the third trimester increased the risk by 87 percent
- Carbamate pesticides were associated with developmental delay but not autism
The results for exposure to pyrethroids are particularly noteworthy, as they’ve been promoted as a safer alternative to older organophosphates. These findings clearly question such claims! Previous animal studies have also suggested pyrethroids can cause neurological, immune, and reproductive damage.
Other recent research has linked the pesticide carbamate to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, so the full impact of these chemicals go far beyond just one potential health risk...
Other noteworthy research is the recently published CHAMACOS Study, which followed hundreds of pregnant women living in the agricultural mecca of Salinas Valley, California. Here, mothers' exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:
- Shorter duration of pregnancy
- Poorer neonatal reflexes
- Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
- Increased risk of attention problems in children
Retracted GMO-Feeding Study Is Republished, Reigniting the Controversy
While pesticides are mainstays of conventional farming in general, genetically engineered (GE) crops receive far greater amounts, and therefore pose an even greater risk to your health. One of the most famous studies demonstrating the hazards of eating GE foods is the 2012 lifetime feeding study by Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini. It showed that Roundup Ready corn (NK603) caused shocking health effects, including massive tumors and early death. Rats given the herbicide glyphosate in their drinking water also developed large tumors.
Seralini’s study was retracted by the publisher in December 2013, just over a year after its publication. According to the publisher, Reed Elsevier, the study “did not meet scientific standards.” While no errors or misrepresentation of data were found, the study had too small a sample size to make any definite conclusion about health effects, they said. In short, it was retracted because its findings were “inconclusive.”
This was a first, and Elsevier’s actions were widely criticized. After all, tons of studies have inconclusive findings—and none of them have ever been retracted for that reason alone. Inconclusive findings are in fact NOT a valid ground for retraction. This in and of itself speaks volumes about the length to which the chemical technology industry will go to in order to suppress evidence of harm.
Now, the study has been republished, thereby reigniting the controversy over its findings. This time, it was published in the far lesser-known journal Environmental Sciences Europe.7, 8 It also includes more extensive data, compared to its first publication. Not surprisingly, the study has again come under attack, and for the same reasons as before.9 While the media war will undoubtedly continue on over the veracity and dependability of Seralini’s study, let’s not forget that there are many other studies that support the notion that GE foods pose a hazard to your health—both due to the genetic alteration of the plant, and due to the elevated contamination with pesticides.
Who Do You Trust with Your Health and Your Children’s Future?
When you take a broad view of the landscape that is genetically engineered foods, it becomes quite clear that the chemical technology industry—which is responsible for the development of these chemical-hungry seeds—is doing everything in its power to maintain control over the market. This includes skewering research that pokes holes in their safety claims, and throwing tens of millions of dollars into fighting GE labeling.
Remember, just last year they were caught red-handed in a money laundering scheme designed to hide the identities of the companies contributing funds to the anti-labeling campaign in Washington State. Since when does illegal activity equate to trustworthiness? Consider that, dear reader, the next time you read a venomous pro-industry article attacking the latest evidence of GMO harm.
Washington State Is Moving Ahead to Keep Industry Lobby Accountable for Its Crimes
With regards to the illegal activities that took place during the Washington State I-522 GMO labeling campaign, the proverbial chickens are now coming home to roost... Sure, the industry narrowly eeked out a win through their illegal scheme, but they were caught, and millions of Americans now know which companies are willing to cross the lines of morality and integrity into deceit and outright illegality. Now, they may be forced to pay Washington State $30 million in fines for breaking the state’s campaign financing laws. As reported by the Cornucopia Institute:10Ironically, and most tellingly, of the more than $20 million collected for the anti-labeling campaign, only a measly $600 dollars, yes, six hundred, no extra zeroes, came from residents within Washington State! The state’s campaign laws actually require that a political committee filing with the Public Disclosure Commission must show that at least 10 Washington citizens donated a minimum of $10 each... They couldn’t even satisfy that legal requirement, and it was the only provision in the state’s law that Judge Schaller ended up throwing out.
“A Thurston County judge... rejected efforts by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to squelch a lawsuit in which state Attorney General (AG) Bob Ferguson accuses the Washington, D.C.-based lobby of laundering millions of dollars in last fall’s campaign...
The case has produced a fascinating trail of documents from within the big food-industry lobby. Agribusiness and food manufacturers spent more than $47 million in 2012 to narrowly defeat a California ballot proposition to require labeling of genetically modified foods. Anticipating additional battles, specifically in Washington, the association set out to, in its words, ‘scope out a funding mechanism while better shielding individual companies from attack for providing funding’ to defeat ballot measures...
Judge Christine Schaller rejected the association’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit... Five corporations donated $14 million-plus to defeat the [Washington] measure: The agribusiness giant Monsanto spent $5.4 million; Dupont put in $3.9 million; Pepsico donated $2.5 million; and Nestle and Coca-Cola put up $1.5 million apiece.
As is typically the case, the industry campaign set up a front group. A woman was put in place as titular spokesperson. The real work was done by a consulting firm that has been running corporate campaigns against initiatives for nearly 40 years, Winner & Mandabach, based in Beverly Hills, California. It blanketed the airwaves with TV spots featuring Washington citizens...”