Pesticides; Also, GMOs
Read here an article on diagnoses of Parkinson’s apparently linked to exposure to the toxin rotenone. Two US Geological Survey hydrologists were heavily exposed to the toxin in 2009 while using it to treat the waters of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Within hours tens of thousands of fish had died. Subsequently, both men developed Parkinson’s at a young age. Rotenone, which is a root-based toxin, has been a suspect in Parkinson’s for many years. Nevertheless it is still used in (our least favorite form) of fish management. Presently, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has proposed to use rotenone to kill rainbow and brown trout in the waters of the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico in order to introduce native Gila trout.
Scotts to Phase Out Neonicotinoids
Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. plans to rapidly phase out neonicotinoid pesticides in its Ortho brand lawn and garden products. These chemicals are suspected to be a cause of bee die-offs bees in certain circumstance. The “neonics” are dangerous not only for bees and other pollinators; they are also toxic to many other species, including birds and aquatic life. The phase-out will include the particularly horrible imidaclorprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran.
An Overview Comparing Results from Two Decades of Monitoring for Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Rivers, 1992–2001 and 2002–2011 By Wesley W. Stone, Robert J. Gilliom, and Jeffrey D. Martin
Surprise? Glyphosate Not As Safe As Industry Claims
March 25, 2015
The USGS reported back in 2009 that "Results from more than 2,000 samples collected from locations distributed across the U.S. indicate that glyphosate is more mobile and occurs more widely in the environment than was previously thought. Glyphosate and AMPA (its primary degradation product) were detected ... in samples collected from surface water, groundwater, rainfall, soil water, and soil ...."
Glyphosate, which is used globally for large-scale agriculture, is the market twin of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). GMO crops can be and are engineered to be resistant to particular herbicides, with glyphosate the herbicide of choice. Monsanto, the inventor of Agent Orange, came up with glyphosate in the 1970s and has parlayed the two technologies of GMO crop creation and a broad-spectrum weed killer into a market bonanza. Glyphosate is sold most often under the brand name Roundup. Farmers worldwide are urged or pressured or persuaded or spontaneously eager to buy GMO crops from Monsanto that are Roundup-ready. That means one can grow the crop in a weed-free field thanks to a thorough soaking with Roundup. The following year, the farmer must buy more seeds from Monsanto. As weeds gradually become resistant to Roundup, a new herbicide can be introduced and another genetic modification can be engineered to assure that the field will be weed free.
This destructive cycle is not necessary. As Mark Bittman says in his New York Times editorial "Stop Making Us Guinea Pigs,"... it’s been adequately demonstrated that crop rotation, the use of organic fertilizers, interplanting of varieties of crops, and other ecologically informed techniques commonly grouped together under the term 'agroecology' can effectively reduce the use of chemicals."
Monsanto no longer is the only marketer of glyphosate. It is also the chief ingredient in many scores of products manufactured by Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Du Pont, Cenex/Land O’Lakes, Helena, Platte, Riverside/Terra, and Zeneca, and many companies in China. Some of its brand names include Glialka, Sting, Rodeo, Spasor, Muster, Tumbleweed, Sonic, Glifonox, Glycel, and Rondo. (The list is courtesy of Wikipedia.)
Roundup/glyphosate is also popular with many (not all) landscapers, athletic field managers, golf course keepers, lawn service firms, and the like. It should be kept away from water, but variants are used to kill plants in water. The chemical action is systemic. It works by interfering with the production of amino acids that are needed for plant growth. That’s a fairly profound alteration of a body’s vital chemistry.
The popularity of the product is based in part on evidence and belief that it is less harmful than other herbicides. Evidence of potential harm has been discounted successfully by the chemical industry. And the news of IARC’s finding is already being criticized and attacked. Naturally it doesn’t help IARC’s case that it works under the auspices of the United Nations and, worse perhaps, is based in France. Monsanto has expressed “outrage,” and wants to meet with IARC. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has repeatedly found glyphosate to be safe when used as directed, announced cautiously that it will give “full consideration” to the IARC findings and all other relevant information during a review of the herbicide now under way with Canadian regulators.
But glyphosate has been banned in Denmark, Holland, and El Salvador. Sri Lanka instituted a ban and then withdrew it. It is banned in Ontario for nonessential uses, such as lawn care. Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors are pursuing legal action to obtain a ban. Roundup is controversial throughout the EU and in many U.S. and Canadian cities. It’s not a surprise that a reputable science institution has confirmed that there’s a problem with Roundup. Unfortunately, it’s also not a surprise that we haven’t been getting the whole story from government or industry. These authorities want to reassure the public. The public wants to be reassured. But not tricked.
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut