We are what we eat!
So why do we insist of manipulating the genetics of food!
I read somewhere recently, and of course now can’t find the reference, that the genetic modification of our food represents as big a danger to the long-term survival of man as does the damage to our biosphere.
So a recent item on the blog Food Freedom News jumped out at me. This was an item that was introduced as, “The author of Seeds of Destruction (about Monsanto) has a new piece out on pesticides and mass animal deaths… very sobering.“
Clicking on the ‘new piece’ link takes one to here, from which I quote the opening paragraphs,
Death of the Birds and the Bees Across America
By F. William Engdahl
“A recent study showed that every human tested had the world’s best-selling pesticide, Roundup, detectable in their urine at concentrations between five and twenty times the level considered safe for drinking water.”
Birds and bees are something most of us take for granted as part of nature. The expression “teaching about the birds and the bees” to explain the process of human reproduction to young people is not an accidental expression. Bees and birds contribute to the essence of life on our planet. A study by the US Department of Agriculture estimated that “…perhaps one-third of our total diet is dependent, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants.”
The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the most important pollinator of agricultural crops. Honey bees pollinate over 70 out of 100 crops that in turn provide 90% of the world’s food. They pollinate most fruits and vegetables–including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots. But while managed honey bee populations have increased over the last 50 years, bee colony populations have decreased significantly in many European and North American nations. Simultaneously, crops that are dependent on insects for pollination have increased. The phenomenon has received the curious designation of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), implying it could be caused by any number of factors. Serious recent scientific studies however point to a major cause: use of new highly toxic systemic pesticides in agriculture since about 2004.
That first paragraph alone made me sit up, “A recent study showed that every human tested had the world’s best-selling pesticide, Roundup, detectable in their urine at concentrations between five and twenty times the level considered safe for drinking water.” What a strange race we are!
Then it was easy to find out more information about the author of the book Seeds of Destruction, William F. Engdahl, including his website. Mr. Engdahl is clearly no stranger to controversy as this YouTube video illustrates,
Back to that Food Freedom article. Further on, there is evidence of the size of the problem in the UK,
Alarming UK results
A private UK research organization, Buglife and the Soil Association, undertook tests to try to determine cause of the bee death. They found that the decline was caused in part by a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are “systemic” chemicals that kill insects by getting into the cell of the plant. In Britain it’s widely used for crops like oilseed rape and for production of potted plants.
The neonicotinoids are found in the UK in products including Chinook, used on oilseed rape and Bayer UK 720, used in the production of potted plants which then ends up in gardens and homes around the country. The new study examined in detail the most comprehensive array of peer-reviewed research into possible long-term effects of neonicotinoid use. Their conclusion was that neonicotinoid pesticides damage the health and life cycle of bees over the long term by affecting the nervous system. The report noted, “Neonicotinoids may be a significant factor contributing to current bee declines and could also contribute to declines in other non-target invertebrate species.” The organization called for a total ban on pesticides containing any neonicotinoids.
The president of the UK Soil Association, Peter Melchett, told the press that pesticides were causing a continued decline in pollinating insects, risking a multimillion pound farming industry. “The UK is notorious for taking the most relaxed approach to pesticide safety in the EU; Buglife’s report shows that this puts at risk pollination services vital for UK agriculture,” he said.
Indeed in March 2012 Sir Robert Watson, Chief Scientist at the British Government’s Department of Environment announced that his government was reconsidering its allowance of neonicotinoid use in the UK. Watson told a British newspaper, “We will absolutely look at the University of Stirling work, the French work, and the American work that came out a couple of months ago. We must look at this in real detail to see whether or not the current British position is correct or is incorrect. I want this all reassessed, very, very carefully.” To date no policy change has ensued however. Given the seriousness of the scientific studies and of the claims of danger, a prudent policy would have been to provisionally suspend further uise of neonicotinoids pending further research. No such luck.
And if the harm to bees wasn’t serious enough, try this extract,
Effect on Human Brain?
But most alarming of all is the evidence that exposure to neonicotinides has horrific possible effects on humans as well as on birds and bees.
Professor Henk Tennekes describes the effects:
“Today the major illnesses confronting children in the United States include a number of psychosocial and behavioral conditions. Neurodevelopmental disorders, including learning disabilities, dyslexia, mental retardation, attention deficit disorder, and autism – occurrence is more prevalent than previously thought, affecting 5 percent to 10 percent of the 4 million children born in the United States annually. Beyond childhood, incidence rates of chronic neurodegenerative diseases of adult life such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia have increased markedly. These trends raise the possibility that exposures in early life act as triggers of later illness, perhaps by reducing the numbers of cells in essential regions of the brain to below the level needed to maintain function in the face of advancing age. Prenatal and childhood exposures to pesticides have emerged as a significant risk factor explaining impacts on brain structure and health that can increase the risk of neurological disease later in life.”
There is also growing evidence suggesting persistent exposure to plants sprayed with neonicotinoids could be responsible for damage to the human brain, including the recent sharp rise in incidents of autism in children.
This really is an article that you should read in full, which also includes a full bibliography and notes section. Plus you can leave your responses as a comment – go for it!