A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
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New studies on pesticides in pregnant women and children; Rice contaminated with GE variety
September 7, 2006
Pregnant women contaminated by pesticides: Studies of 668 samples from the placentas of pregnant women showed the “average presence of eight organochlorine contaminants” according to research at the University of Grenada in Spain. Researcher María José López Espinosa is a doctoral fellow in the Department of Radiology and Physical Medicine of the University. Her study aimed to determine the prevalence of organochlorine pesticides. DDE (a breakdown product of DDT), lindane, and endosulfan where found to be the most common pesticides in the samples. All three chemicals bioaccumulate in humans and the environment and have been linked to neurological problems and other health issues, and they have shown up as well in studies in many countries, including those by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Read the University of Grenada article. See PANNA’s Chemical Trespass for background.
Household pesticides in children: With the phase-out of organophosphate pesticides for use in the home, pyrethroid pesticides are being used for more residential applications. New research documents that children’s household exposure to pyrethroid pesticides is greater than their exposure from food. According to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, “Depending on the compound and the dose, pyrethroids may affect neurological development, disrupt hormones, induce cancer, and suppress the immune system.” Researchers at Emory University and U.S. Centers for Disease Control studied children during the summer of 2003 to determine the source of the pyrethroid contamination, while feeding them an organic diet. Read more.
Organic farming degree from U. of Florida: Joining Colorado State and Washington State Universities, the University of Florida has announced that it, too, would offer a degree in organic farming. With organic food sales growing at the average rate of 20% per year, the new degrees reflect the need for farmers to keep up with growing demand. The Miami Herald reports that organic farming is one sector where small farmers can earn a premium on their investment. The Herald interviewed Ryan Zinn, from the Organic Consumers Organization, who said that consumer choices for buying organic from a “really a localized food system, is not a flash in the pan.” Read the story here.
Rice contaminated with GE variety: According to the Washington Post, “Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced late yesterday that U.S. commercial supplies of long-grain rice had become inadvertently contaminated with a genetically engineered variety not approved for human consumption. Johanns said the company that made the experimental rice, Bayer CropScience of Monheim, Germany, had provided information to the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration indicating that the rice poses no threats to human health or the environment… The variety, known as LLRICE 601, is endowed with bacterial DNA that makes rice plants resistant to a weedkiller made by the agricultural giant Aventis.” The story recalls the discovery of StarLink genetically engineered corn in the U.S. food supply in 2000, originally found by Friends of the Earth and the Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition (of which PANNA was a member), in taco shells manufactured by Kraft Foods. StarLink, a type of corn engineered by Aventis to produce an insecticidal protein and grown for animal feed, was not approved for human consumption by EPA because the corn exhibited allergenic characteristics. In 2002, StarLink showed up in corn in Bolivia, provided by US AID. Read more in PANUPs.
Farmworkers sickened by pesticide: Thirty workers at the Giumarra vineyards near Arvin, California, became sick after Bortran, a sulfur-based fungicide, was sprayed by neighboring Hall Farming vineyard. Seven were taken to the hospital. Emergency crews assisted with decontaminating the workers. “All of a sudden, we saw a lot of smoke like when there is a fog coming in and we noticed that they were [spraying] in the next farm over,’ one of the workers, Antonio Estrada, 46, said in Spanish,” according to the report in the Bakersfield Californian. Arvin is also the site of a major drift incident in 2002, in which 137 people were injured. In 2005, the pesticide applicator and the farm were ordered to pay 84 residents $775,000 in damages stemming from the 2002 accident. See PANNA News Release.
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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