PANNA: Environmental Illness, Pesticides & Parkinson’s, First Ever Organic Degree and more



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Environmental Illness, Pesticides & Parkinson’s, First Ever Organic Degree and more
June 22, 2006

Global Environmental Health Threat: As much as 24% of global disease is caused by environmental exposures that can be averted. Well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports in a recent study. WHO further estimates that more than 33% of disease in children under the age of 5 is caused by environmental exposures. Preventing environmental health risks could save as many as four million lives a year, mostly in developing countries.

Florida/Mexico: Exposure to pesticides reaches across generations, according to a new University of Florida study that finds daughters of mothers who lived near areas of heavy agricultural spraying may be unable to nurse their children. Conducted in Mexico, the research involves pesticides also used in the United States, although sold under different names, potentially presenting similar risks to people in the U.S., said Elizabeth Guillette, the University of Florida anthropology professor who led the research. The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Minnesota: Exposure to pesticides used for farming and other purposes may raise the risk of Parkinson’s disease in men, a new study confirmed. Parkinson’s patients were 2.4 times more likely to be exposed to pesticides in their life than those who were not exposed to pesticides, according to the study Chemical exposures and Parkinson’s disease: A population-based case-control study. The research was conducted by Mayo Clinic scientists and published in the June issue of the journal Movement Disorders.

Read the abstract.

Mexico: Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, the principal tobacco companies in Mexico, employ agricultural production contracts to impose their norms and corporate culture upon the ejidatarios (communal land owners) who grow tobacco. Pesticides mandated by the company contracts typically damage the nervous system, provoke nausea, loss of balance, confusion and worse. At high concentrations some of these chemicals can paralyze breathing and cause death. Much of Mexico’s tobacco growing is concentrated in the Gold Coast (Costa de Oro) region of Nayarit. The majority of workers in the tobacco fields are indigenous, coming from the Huichol (wixárika), Cora (nayari), Tepehunao (o ‘dam ñi ‘ok) and Mexicanero communities in the mountains in the north of Jalisco, from western Nayarit, and southern Durango and Zacatecas. An estimated one million of these people are migrant day laborers and approximately 450,000 are children between the ages of six and fourteen. The state of Nayarit leads the nation in pesticide poisonings. For ten years, the PAN Affiliate project Huicholes and Pesticides has exposed and denounced the use of toxic pesticides in tobacco fields. Read their recent report.

Washington: Washington State University is offering the nation’s first organic farming degree. John Reganold, a Washington State University soils professor, put together a proposal to create the nation’s first organic farming degree, and the state approved the program last month. Reganold is a major figure in the rise of organic farming, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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