The “Cides” (Pesticides, Herbicides, Fungicides, Insecticides)

Do you still think that the fruit you are eating is safe? Think again. A recent study from the UK indicates that pesticide residues on some common fruits are unusually high. Some apples, pears, raspberries, and grapes contained pesticide residues that exceeded the legal limits. Cherries, lettuce, and pumpkins all contained potentially dangerous levels of toxic pesticide residues as well. And the produce wasn’t just from one area – it originated from all over the world from Brazil to Spain to Canada.

So remember that when you reach for that luscious fruit at the grocery you may be inadvertently feeding your children pesticides as well. Fruits and vegetables that are heavily sprayed include strawberries, cantaloupe, bell peppers, peaches, nectarines, celery, potatoes, carrots, and imported grapes. I recommend that you buy organic when it comes to these fruits and vegetables. If you can’t find organic produce, try mixing twenty drops of grapefruit seed extract, on tablespoon of baking soda, one cup of vinegar, and one cup of water together in a spray bottle. Spray the produce, let it sit for about ten minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. This process should eliminate a good amount of pesticide residue. Blueberries, grapefruit, bananas, broccoli, mangos, cauliflower, avocadoes, asparagus, onions, California grapes, citrus, pineapple, and melons typically don’t contain a large amount of pesticides.

According to the EPA, 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Alarmingly, pesticide residues have been detected in over half of American food. Most pesticides contain multiple toxins, and there is no class of pesticide which is free of cancer causing potential. The most convincing evidence that pesticides cause cancer is from epidemiological studies. The common lawn pesticide 2,4-D (aka “Weed-B-Gone”) has been shown to increase the risk of lymphatic cancer in farmers six times the normal rate, according to a National Cancer Institute report. (Sinclair, W. 18 “Studies Show Why Pesticides Are More Dangerous than Previously Realized”). Most folks don’t realize that 2,4-D is half of the recipe for Agent Orange, and is one of the top sources of dioxin in the USA. Dow Chemical is the biggest 2,4-D manufacturer.

Scientist believe that the use of lawn chemicals (like Weed-B-Gone) have been a significant factor in the 50% rise in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma over the past 20 years in the American population. (World Health Organization, 2,4-D Environmental Aspects.  Geneva, Switzerland, 1989). 2,4-D has also been linked to malignant lymphoma in dogs. Pets are exposed to higher doses of pesticides because they are closer to the ground where concentrations are the highest. Studies show that the risk of lymphomas doubles in dogs whose owners treated lawns four times per year.

In light of the fact that 2,4-D is a known carcinogen and toxin, one would think that the EPA would want to prohibit its sale. In November of 2013, the EPA rejected a petition that sought to prohibit the domestic sale of 2,4-D. And Dow Chemical believes that sales will skyrocket in the coming months, since they are awaiting federal approval of a genetically engineered crop they’ve created that will be resistant to 2,4-D. If approved, farmers will be able to plant the “franken-corn “and douse their fields with the pesticide to eliminate unwanted weeds with greater success. Although 2,4-D isn’t currently used to a large degree on corn fields, all that could soon change for the USA’s most successful crop if their new “franken-corn” is approved.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental watch group, has argued that exposure to 2,4-D has caused in some cases cancer, hormone disruption, genetic mutations and neurotoxicity, reports the New York Times. In voting not to hear the petition against the pesticide, however, the EPA says that they believe there to be a lack of evidence that would be significant enough to raise suspicion.

In 1983 the National Cancer Institute studies 3,827 Florida pesticide applicators that had been spraying for more than 20 years. They found that these pesticide applicators had nearly three times the risk of developing lung cancer and two times the risk of developing brain cancer. There was no increased risk for pesticide applicators that had been spraying for only five years. (Journal of the NCI, July 1983)

Speaking of pesticides, DEET is a chemical that was patented by the US Army in 1946 and is still widely recognized as an effective mosquito repellent. In fact, most commercial insect repellents are made of varying concentrations of DEET. Currently, DEET is used in up to 230 different products. However, all is not well with DEET. When combined with other chemicals or medications, DEET can have toxic effects on the brain and body. DEET has been shown to cause seizures, neurological damage, memory loss, headaches, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors, and shortness of breath. Children are even more susceptible to subtle brain changes caused by toxic chemicals in their environment because their skin more readily absorbs them. So you should never use any DEET- containing product on infants.

Since the late 1970s, there have been multiple reports linking pesticides to leukemia in children. A 1887 study by the NCI showed that children living in pesticide-treated homes had nearly a four times greater risk of developing leukemia. If the children lived in homes where pesticide was sprayed on lawns and gardens, the risk of developing leukemia was 6.5 times greater.  (Dr. Jon Peters, USC, Journal of the NCI, July 1987)

Have you ever heard of Atrazine? Atrazine is a powerful herbicide applied to over 70% of America’s cornfields. Traces of the chemical routinely turn up in American streams and wells and even in the rain, and residues of Atrazine are frequently found in our food supply. So what? Well, this toxic chemical, which was recently banned by the European Union, is a suspected carcinogen and endocrine disrupter that has been linked to low sperm counts among farmers. As a matter of fact, Tyrone Hayes, a herpetologist at UC Berkeley, while doing research on behalf of Syngenta (the manufactures of Atrazine), found that even at concentrations as low as .1 part per billion, Atrazine will chemically emasculate a male frog, causing its gonads to produce eggs, in effect, turning males into hermaphrodites.

In a June 2006 article in the New York Times entitled “The Way We Live Now,” author Michael Pollen comments, “Atrazine is often present in American waterways at much higher concentrations than .1 part per billion. But American regulators generally won’t ban a pesticide until the bodies, or cancer cases, begin to pile up – until, that is, scientist can prove the link between the suspect molecule and illness in humans or ecological catastrophe. So Atrazine is, at least in the American food system, deemed innocent until proved guilty – a standard of proof extremely difficult to achieve, since it awaits the results of chemical testing on humans that we, rightly, don’t perform.

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