“There's a message: If you want to prosper at USDA, don't make waves,” says Jeff Ruch, the executive director of the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “When you do what Jonathan is doing, you do so at your own peril.”
Indoor air contamination has become a central issue today because most of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors and we are breathing and re-breathing the same old polluted air all day long. The problem is worse for very young children, because the air quality is much worse at floor level. Many toxic substances are heavier than air and sink down to floor level. Even though most every home in America probably has some level of pesticide residue, and we know that many health conditions and diseases are related to pesticide exposure, we find that our modern healthcare system seems to be unconcerned about indoor pesticide contamination. Doctors may ask us about our alcohol and drug use, ask us about our sexual practices, and sometimes ask us about our diet, but when was the last time a doctor asked you about your pesticide exposure?
A comprehensive new study published this week in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition shows very clearly that how we grow our food has a huge impact. Organic food is superior to its conventional counterparts and is higher in antioxidants and lower in pesticide residues.
A recent UC Davis study found pregnant women living within a mile of fields were pesticides were sprayed were 60 percent likelier to have a child with autism. Since that study was published, director of Notre Dame autism research lab and associate editor of Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Dr. Joshua Diehl, says he's been bombarded with e-mails and calls from concerned parents and researchers.
Prairie bird populations are falling in many Midwestern states, from ring-necked pheasants to horned larks to sparrows. Scientists now say insecticides are a primary culprit.
The Environmental Working Group's 2014 "Shopper's Guide" to pesticides in produce was published earlier this year. In the graphic above we list their "Clean 15," and in the graphic below we list their "Dirty Dozen." Two-thirds of produce samples in recent government tests had pesticide residues. Their guide lists the results of pesticide residues in conventionally-grown produce in the U.S.
Are you giving toxic flowers to your sweetheart? Cut flower growers are among the heaviest users of agricultural chemicals, including pesticides that are suspected of being among the most toxic. The pesticide problem is not restricted to cut flowers. More than half of garden plants attractive to bees and sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s are pre-treated with pesticides that could be lethal to bees. Learn how to get safe, non-toxic flowers.
Dow Chemical Readies for a New Era of Superweeds – By Getting USDA to Approve Older Toxic Pesticide for GMO Seeds
One of the empty promises originally made when genetically modified technology was developed was that crops would need fewer pesticides. More than ten years later, however, we are seeing that not only have the genetically modified seeds developed resistance to pesticides, but so have many weeds, as we are seeing a new breed of superweeds that are resistant to Monsanto's glyphosate (Round-up Ready). Now, Dow Chemical has petitioned U.S. regulators to allow them to use an older pesticide on their genetically modified corn and soybean seeds, 2,4-D, which was part of the infamous "Agent Orange". Agent Orange was the Vietnam War defoliant that was blamed for numerous health problems suffered during and after the war. Although the main health effects of Agent Orange were blamed on the other component of the mixture (2,4,5-T) and dioxin contamination, critics say 2,4-D has significant health risks of its own. Earlier this month (January 2014), the USDA gave Dow Chemical the green-light to proceed after issuing an Environmental Impact Statement.
Researchers analyzed pollen from bee hives and found 35 different pesticides along with high fungicide loads. Each sample contained, on average, nine different pesticides and fungicides, although one contained 21 different chemicals. While previously assumed to be safe for bees, bees fed pollen contaminated with high levels of fungicides had a significant decline in the ability to resist infection with the Nosema ceranae parasite, which has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In the US, the “Save America’s Pollinators Act” has been introduced; if passed, this bill, HR 2692, would require the EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides, also implicated in bee die-offs, from the market until their safety is proven.
Across the Midwestern corn belt, a familiar battle has resumed, hidden in the soil. On one side are tiny, white larvae of the corn rootworm. On the other side are farmers and the insect-killing arsenal of modern agriculture. It appears that farmers have gotten part of the message: Biotechnology alone will not solve their rootworm problems. But instead of shifting away from GMO corn, or from corn altogether, many are doubling down on insect-fighting technology, deploying more chemical pesticides than before. Companies like or that sell soil insecticides for use in corn fields are reporting huge increases in sales: 50 or even 100 percent over the past two years. Steiner, the Nebraska crop consultant, usually argues for another strategy: Starve the rootworms, he tells his clients. Just switch that field to another crop. "One rotation can do a lot of good," he says. "Go to beans, wheat, oats. It's the No. 1 right thing to do." But large industrial farmers seem unwilling to give up the lucrative corn cash crop.