Pesticides: A Public Problem
from Pesticide Action Network
Pesticides…on our food, even after washing;
…in our bodies, for years;
…and in our environment, traveling many
miles on wind, water and dust.
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Pesticide regulations in the United States are well behind much of the rest of the industrialized world. This is mostly because agrichemical corporations like Monsanto have too much influence in Washington, but also because pesticide regulation in the U.S. does not adequately account for things like additive and synergistic effects. Since the Environmental Protection Agency regulates most chemicals on a chemical-by-chemical basis, the combined and cumulative effects of a mixture of pesticides are nearly impossible for them to address--and so they usually don't.
The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) recognizes that pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve. Their mission is to work towards replacing the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. Pan North America is one of five PAN Regional Centers worldwide. They link local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens' action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to ensure the transition to a just and viable society.
What's On My Food? (www.whatsonmyfood.org) is a searchable database created by PAN designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable. It builds on PAN's 27-year tradition of making pesticide science accessible. Visit this website to learn more about pesticide residues found in specific foods.
Given the complexities of chemical causality and disease-formation, the smart solution would be to follow the European Union's lead and adopt the "precautionary principle" as the basis for regulatory decision-making. This approach prioritizes protecting human health when there is significant doubt about the safety of a product. By contrast, pesticides and industrial chemicals in the United States are innocent until proven guilty. It often takes decades to prove a chemical guilty.
Meanwhile, we are exposed to dozens of pesticides in the food we eat, water we drink, and air we breathe.
People working on farms or living in rural areas near non-organic agricultural fields face even higher exposure levels. Most of us are born with persistent pesticides and other chemicals already in our bodies, passed from mother to child during fetal development. The human health impacts linked to pesticide exposure range from birth defects and childhood brain cancer in the very young, to Parkinsons' disease in the elderly. In between are a variety of other cancers, developmental and neurological disorders, reproductive and hormonal system disruptions, and more.
Does eating organic make a difference? Yes! When researchers compared the levels of pesticide breakdown products in the bodies of children who eat organic and conventional diets, they found children who eat mostly organic foods carry fewer pesticides in their bodies. By eating food produced organically or without pesticides, not only will you be reducing the amount of pesticide in your body, you will be helping create a better environment for other people, the planet, and future generations.
Join PAN North America and subscribe to PAN Alert (action.panna.org) and you can help to create healthy, environmentally sustainable, socially just approaches to food, farming, and pest management. By engaging in political action to change our food system, you'll be part of making sure that everyone can eat their meals without pesticides on the side.
Reprinted from PAN North America: www.panna.org
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