Introducing pesticides into agriculture saved countless lives by feeding many of the poorest of the poor. Bountiful harvests have been the hallmark of the late 20th century and part way into the 21st as well. However, there appears an unwanted, if not horrific, effect of pesticides upon human physiology and health.
The pesticides such as glyphosphate (RoundUp [TM] ) and organo-phosphate pesticides (insecticides) are strongly implicated in the physiological and neurological problems in new borns. The evidence strongly suggests that children born of farm workers and children exposed in urban settings (in close proximity to household pesticides) to lice and roach treatments suffer disproportionately in contrast to their more affluent peers.
While the ag-business may not subscribe to such data or conclusions, there may have been reasons for the skepticism. In the 1970s, glyphosphate was invented, and much data was generated on the toxicity of the chemical. What was known in that time period was the rapid degradation of the herbicide. It would rapidly degrade in sunlight and seemed to pose little if any harm (references at the end of the post). Thus, it seemed as if the ag- business had invented a miracle —a truly non-toxic herbicide.
That news was greeted by most as cause for celebration, since Agent Orange was a debacle of the Vietnam War (in the early-to-mid 1970s). Many an American Veteran returned from Vietnam with mysterious symptoms that seemingly defied medical description. All too often, I heard from my uncles, who served during WWII and Korea–it made no sense that they had been exposed to quite a few industrial chemicals during their tours but showed no ill effects. Moreover, their newborn children seemingly escaped harm. — or did they?
A Case of Voodoo Science? –Oral History or Coincidence?
Although the data seems quite spurious and anecdotal, what needs to be investigated— the links between past exposures to generational ancestors and the present day alterations to the human genome. WWII saw numerous countries turn their economies into war machines–industrial centers like SF-Oakland Bay Area and Detroit, Michigan turned much of their industrial waste back into the Pacific Ocean or the Great Lakes. Much of the industrial area roadways became breeding grounds for chemical sterility. Higher levels of Pb (lead), Cr (chromium), As (arsenic) and other elements are found on the freeways of inner urban areas. It does not take a rocket scientist to surmise — we poisoned our inner cities– but no one understood why aspects of crime, economics, and poor school performance became the hall-marks for their areas. While other factors make it plain that the areas were neglected due to indifference and lack of small business attractiveness–there were other (so-called) reasons.
What may need to be answered is: how did past toxic chemical exposure (two to three generations prior) affect the whole human genome as we now know it? Is the question relevant or is it ‘fear-mongering’? 0r Is it Voodoo Science?
The Science Speaks!
What can be said for certain– “…. (glyphosate) use has increased approximately 100-fold since the first decade of its use in the 1970s. … Initial risk assessments of glyphosate assumed a limited hazard to vertebrates because its stated herbicidal mechanism of action targeted a plant enzyme not present in vertebrates. … ” –taken from:
National Institutes of Health — Review article: Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement
Link between hazardous chemicals and neurological problems — Opens up to YouTube lecture from the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute
Industrial Chemicals and Autism Link — Epidemiological studies
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2016.00148/full — Exposure studies
Pesticide Exposure and Effects on Estrogen Receptors — Biochemical study
Toxic Pesticides of the Late 20th Century — Opens up to Decodedscience.com article
By Deutsch: Maler der Grabkammer des Sennudem English: Painter of the burial chamber of Sennedjem [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons