Pesticides: End of term report from Mother Nature

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Do you have problems with insects? We regard them alternately with hatred and fear, enthralment, and disgust. We are woefully ignorant about them and most often end up killing the ones we actually really need while failing to control the bug causing us trouble.

The results are in and although it’s not a complete fail – we’ve definitely been received a ‘must try harder’ report card from Mother Nature. Terrifyingly as our groundwater and air are more frequently tested, and as more scientific studies appear, we are beginning to see the devastating consequences of the use of toxic pesticides used in our everyday life. Have you given thought to how much ends up in rivers, the air, the food chain, our body fat, and breast milk? Report after report issue warnings that exposures to pesticides pose a serious public health threat by depressing the immune system. In the past few years, pesticides have also been implicated in the disruption of hormone function in animals, from alligators in Florida to polar bears in the Arctic.

Human sperm counts have reduced between 33 and 42 percent in the past fifty years, according to European studies. Ninety-six pesticides currently in everyday use have been identified as potential human carcinogens. Rates of some cancers, such as testicular and prostate cancer, have increased alarmingly. In 1960, one in twenty US women were diagnosed with breast cancer; now it is one in eight. Recently, Parkinson’s was added to the list of diseases attributed to pesticide exposure. Pesticides are now known to interfere with neurological development in children.

Humans are not, the only victims. It has been estimated that more than 67 million birds are killed each year by pesticides (in the US) applied legally to farmland. Fish also die by the millions, as do our precious bees necessary for pollination of food crops applied to protect. But we can do something about it. As consumers, we play an important role in our profit-driven society, and we can help turn the tide. So take the time to learn about the pests that trouble you and choose the safest way to deal with them. It’s time to be less lazy, ditch the chemicals and buy or grow organic food.

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