A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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June 28, 2007
Organophosphate breakdown products are more dangerous: A new study by the United States Geological Survey documents that when organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion break down, the resulting chemicals may prove even more harmful. According to the USGS experiments, "...tadpoles were raised from eggs collected from a stream in the California Coast Range, upwind of agricultural activities in the Central Valley and away from areas where significant quantities of pesticides are used. Test results indicated that chloroxon [a chlorpyrifos breakdown product] killed all tadpoles and was at least 100 times more toxic than the lowest concentration of the parent compound chlorpyrifos, which resulted in no mortality. Maloxon [malathion breakdown product] was nearly 100 times more toxic than malathion, and diazoxon [diazinon breakdown product] was about 10 times more toxic than diazinon."
Thousands poisoned by pesticides in Canada each year: Over 6000 Canadians are acutely poisoned by pesticides each year, according to a new report by the David Suzuki Foundation. Almost 3000 of those poisoned are children. The researchers used data from regional poison reporting centers in Canada and estimate the annual health costs from the toxic exposure to be over $16 million each year. The authors are calling for a national ban on all lawn and garden pesticides. Read Northern Exposure, Acute Pesticide Poisonings in Canada.
Child laborers suffer from pesticide exposure: Over 130 million children work as agricultural laborers world-wide according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Many are exposed to dangerous health hazards while mixing, handling and applying toxic pesticides. The ILO met in Geneva with five humanitarian organizations to partner and focus on ending global exploitation of child labor. "Exposed to the same hazards as adults in agriculture, the risks to children are even greater because their bodies and minds are still developing and they lack work experience. In some cases, work begins for children as young as five, and children under 10 years account for 20 per cent of child labour in some rural areas, according to estimates by the ILO-International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)." The Cape Timesreports on the meeting.
EPA orders Dow to clean up river: On June 27, US EPA Region 5 notified Dow Chemical Co. that it must "immediately start cleanup of three dioxin-contaminated hot spots downstream of its Midland, Mich., facility on the Tittabawassee River." EPA noted that in late 2006, Dow itself had "identified dioxin hot spots along the first six miles of the Tittabawassee River contaminated with levels up to 87,000 parts per trillion, far in excess of state and federal requirements.... areas...subject to flooding and erosion that could spread the contamination." The order comes on the heels of a May 10 shareholder resolution to clean up the river sponsored by Sisters of Mercy Detroit and the Dow Accountability Network. Two more resolutions called on Dow to clean up Bhopal, India and stop producing some of its most dangerous pesticides.
Maine study reveals toxic chemicals in human bodies: The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine released a "body burden" study, documenting chemical contamination in the bodies of 13 Maine residents. Forty-six different chemicals were identified in the participants' blood and urine samples. Dangerous chemicals found in the participants' bodies include arsenic which can come from natural sources as well as pesticides, lumber, and industrial sources; mercury, lead (from paint), PFCs (from Teflon production and products ranging from clothing to coated cookware), PBDEs (flame retardants), and phthalates (from cosmetics and plastics). The authors write: "Scientific research shows that these chemicals are hazardous and that even tiny amounts may threaten human health. They are toxic or harmful to life and many are slow to degrade and also build up to high levels in the food chain. Babies in the womb and young children are especially vulnerable because they are still growing. Animal and human studies have linked these chemicals to learning and developmental disabilities, endocrine system damage, changes in sexual development, reproductive harm (including decreased sperm count in men), low birth weight and some cancers." Read more.
Monsanto forced to withdraw GMO food safety claim: The South African Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered Monsanto to stop advertising genetically modified foods as being "safe," ruling that the claims were "unsubstantiated." At issue was an ad that ran in February in a South African magazine. The Citizen has the story. In February a 1998 Monsanto study conducted in Russia was made public linking genetically engineered potatoes to intestinal cancer. GM Free Cymu had sued to get the Russian research released. Read more.
Moscow proposes banning GMO food in Russia: City legislators and the mayor of Moscow are pushing for a national ban on genetically modified food. The Russian daily Kommersant reports: "The draft bill bans the production of GM plants used for food, sale of GM food to children under 16 and at hospitals. The army and navy are also banned from purchasing GM food. The legislation binds producers to indicate the amount of genetically modified components on the packaging irrespective of the GM share in the product."
Calgary school district celebrates 13 years pesticide-free: It hasn't been easy, but this school district is proud that it rejected pesticide use for its public grounds over a decade ago. The Aidrie Echo interviewed Rocky View School District groundskeeper Steve Repic and reported, "Over the years, Repic said, maintenance time and costs have decreased, while the school grounds have become a healthy place not only for students and staff members, but also birds, butterflies, earthworms and pollinating insects needed in the ecosystem. And an extra boon came in 2002 when Communities in Bloom recognized Rocky View School District's grounds as some of the best in Canada."