Autism and bees – a disturbing link

If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, read this!

I subscribe to Food Freedom News and often read their articles when they appear in my ‘in-box’.  Especially so yesterday morning when the headline jumped off the ‘page’ at me: Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?

So, in a sense, hand-in-hand with the article in yesterday’s Learning from Dogs Food, glorious food!  Because if trying to feed 9 billion people living on a planet where ‘farmers holding seeds that won’t sprout‘ means the even greater use of chemicals then ….. then, I don’t know what!

The Food Freedom website showed that the article came from Brian Moench of the Common Dreams website.  Not a website I had come across before but one that quickly impressed me!

So here’s that article.

Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?

by Brian Moench

A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune’s front page headline declared, “Highest rate in the nation, 1 in 32 Utah boys has autism.”  This is a national public health emergency, whose epicenter is Utah, Gov. Herbert.  A more obscure story on the same day read: “New pesticides linked to bee population collapse.”  If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, this is another national emergency, Pres. Obama.  A common  denominator may underlie both headlines.

A honeybee pollinates a flower in a citrus grove just coming into blossom. (Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images)

A Stanford University study with 192 pairs of twins, with one twin autistic and one not, found that genetics accounts for 38% of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for  62%.

Supporting an environmental/genetic tag team are other studies showing autistic children and their mothers have a high rate of a genetic deficiency in the production of glutathione,  an anti-oxidant and the body’s primary means of detoxifying heavy metals.  High levels of toxic metals in children are strongly correlated with the severity of autism.  Low levels of glutathione, coupled with high production of another chemical, homocysteine, increase the chance of a mother having an autistic child to one in three.  That autism is four times more common among boys than girls is likely related to a defect in the single male X chromosome contributing to anti-oxidant deficiency.   There is no such thing as a genetic disease epidemic  because genes don’t change that quickly.  So the alarming rise in autism must be the result of increased environmental exposures that exploit these genetic defects.

During the critical first three months of gestation a human embryo adds 250,000 brain cells per minute reaching 200 billion by the fifth month.  There is no chemical elixir that improves this biologic miracle, but thousands of toxic substances can cross the placenta and impair that process, leaving brain cells stressed, inflamed, less well developed, fewer in number and with fewer connections with each other all of which diminish brain function.  The opportunity to repair the resulting deficits later on is limited.

The list of autism’s environmental suspects is long and comes from many studies that show higher rates of autism with greater exposure to flame retardants, plasticizers like BPA,  pesticides, endocrine disruptors in personal care products, heavy metals in air pollution, mercury, and pharmaceuticals like anti-depressants.  [my emphasis]  (Utah’s highest in the nation autism rates are matched by the highest rates of anti-depressant use and the highest mercury levels in the country in the Great Salt Lake).

Doctors have long advised women during pregnancy to avoid any unnecessary consumption of drugs or chemicals.  But as participants in modern society we are all now exposed to over 83,000 chemicals from the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and the consumer products we use.  Pregnant women and their children have 100 times more chemical exposures today than 50 years ago.  The average newborn has over 200 different chemicals and heavy metals contaminating  its blood when it takes its first breath. 158 of them are toxic to the brain.  Little wonder that rates of autism, attention deficit and behavioral disorders are all on the rise.

How does this relate to vanishing bees and our food supply?  Two new studies, published simultaneously in the journal Science,  show that the rapid rise in use of insecticides is likely responsible for the mass disappearance of bee populations.   The world’s food chain hangs in the balance because 90% of native plants require pollinators to survive.

The brain of insects is the intended target of these insecticides.  They disrupt the bees homing behavior and their ability to return to the hive, kind of like “bee autism.”   But insects are different than humans, right?   Human and insect nerve cells share the same basic biologic infrastructure.  Chemicals that interrupt electrical impulses in insect nerves will do the same to humans.  But humans are much bigger than insects and the doses to humans are  miniscule, right?

During critical first trimester development a human is no bigger than an insect so there is every reason to believe that pesticides could wreak havoc with the developing brain of a human embryo.   But human embryos aren’t out in corn fields being sprayed with insecticides, are they?  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.

The autism epidemic and disappearing bees are real public health emergencies created by allowing our world to be overwhelmed by environmental toxins.  Environmental protection is human protection, especially for the smallest and most vulnerable among us.

oooOOOooo

Brian Moench

Dr. Brian Moench is President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He can be reached at: drmoench@yahoo.com

Please bring this to the notice of any couples who you know are planning for a family!

If all this sort of information makes you want to curl up and kiss your backside goodnight, then hold on.  Next week I hope to publish a summary of a fascinating presentation given to a local women’s group here in Payson that shows the many obvious and easy steps we can all take to revert back to a resilient life on this planet.  

Dogs really do know better!

13 thoughts on “Autism and bees – a disturbing link

  1. A Stanford University study with 192 pairs of twins, with one twin autistic and one not, found that genetics accounts for 38% of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for 62%.

    What study is that? Most studies show that autism is, primarily, a genetic difference.

    There are so many vague assumptions in this, I don’t know where to start.

    This one is worst:

    The list of autism’s environmental suspects is long and comes from many studies that show higher rates of autism with greater exposure to flame retardants, plasticizers like BPA, pesticides, endocrine disruptors in personal care products, heavy metals in air pollution, mercury, and pharmaceuticals like anti-depressants. [my emphasis] (Utah’s highest in the nation autism rates are matched by the highest rates of anti-depressant use and the highest mercury levels in the country in the Great Salt Lake).

    Correlation does not equal causation! I am surprised a physician can forget that.

    Then this one:

    So the alarming rise in autism must be the result of increased environmental exposures that exploit these genetic defects.

    Wait a second… Apart from the ‘correlation does not equal causation’ part, the idea of an autism ‘epidemic’ is debatable. The number of autism diagnoses has risen steadily over a number of years, that is the fact.

    Whether the prevalence of autism has risen is another question. Other possible explanations include improved professional autism awareness and competency, improved general awareness of early warning signs, increased motivation to get a kid or adult diagnosed (support and intervention that wasn’t available in the past), societal norms and structural changes which can make autism in kids more visible in the school system e.t.c.

    Another explanation I find likely is: evolution. Autism is not a disease, it is a genetic difference that creates major social and sensory problems but also advantages such as hyper-focus, strong passions / interest, extremely strong perseverance in focus on interests, strong attention to details e.t.c. You want some of that in your average programmer / technical specialist / scientist minus the disabling problems.

    I think a person with mild autistic traits is much more likely to be successful and well connected (via the Internet) today than preciously due to society’s high paced technological development and the number of hyper-focused specialists required to facilitate it and drive development. And due to the dominance of the Internet and the borderless communication style it facilitates. The person is more likely to find an even-minded person to marry, have kids… pass on genes.

    Which is overall fine, because society needs those genes to facilitate further technological development… in small doses, but nature isn’t accurate… I think the prevalence of severely autistic kids could be a genetic by-product of the technological evolution.

    That autism is four times more common among boys than girls is likely related to a defect in the single male X chromosome contributing to anti-oxidant deficiency.

    That is controversial too. Autism is more common in boys than girls (the proportion varies). Some autism experts think the difference is partly driven by an imbalance between boys’ and girls’ likeliness to be diagnosed. Most autism studies have been done on boys only, and the autism criteria are based on studies of boys. Autism is often expressed differently and less visibly in girls who tend to be better at imitating normal behaviour and have less weird (but equally strong) interests; and that plus the above factors makes autism less detectable in girls, albeit not less problematic for the girls. I think we’ll see the gap narrow down over time. (and that will make the autism ‘epidemic’ seem even more ‘epidemic’)

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    1. Mados, thank you for your long and comprehensive comment. I’ll make sure your feedback is brought to the attention of Food Freedom News. Once again, big thanks, Paul

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  2. Happy to hear from Mados that “autism is not a disease”. Mad-os-sification of denial? What about heart attacks as pure evolution, to make us more sensitive?

    In other absurdities, the fda had decided that BPA is safe and effective, and refused to forbid it.

    As far as bees are concerned, some French researchers have tracked bee disease to a supposedly safe insecticide that smashes part of the bees’ neurobiology. What about those getting in children’ neurobiology too?

    This being said, the way children are brought up nowadays in pre-school orphanage, may have a lot to do with it, from personal observations.
    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

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  3. There are far too many additives to our foods and chemicals in herbisides which are having affects upon health and probably killing the Bees in the process.. When the Bees die so too do our crops.. The GM crops in particular are having profound effects not only on Bees but the Farmers who are having to use more and more herbicides to treat them They and their families are suffering Kidney diseases and cancers due to spraying… … Crazy. So glad I grow alot of my own fresh produce..

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    1. Sue: Around farmland, rate of Parkinson is at least ten time higher, indeed… Lucky you!
      the bee and BPA mysteries have been solved in France… Apparently the USA ain’t rich enough to do something about it
      PA

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      1. Patrice, I would appreciate it if you could point me in the direction of that French background as I would like to refer to that on LfD. Paul

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  4. Hi Paul: Sure, will try my best, but I am travelling crazy in the next ten days (at least, actually more than a month). First I am going to Washington DC (in the heathens’ den). Then off to Rome, for my first visit, then the Alps, etc. With baby in tow, of course… Generating even more CO2.

    That insecticide is allowed in France and EU, so there has been lots of screaming, as the chemical industry is huge in both places, and excluded from the precaution principle… But I saw the research, and it looked solid (unfortunately, i don’t remember any details; i am sure it will resurface)
    PA

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