Some Questions Remain Unanswered
Open forums, like live radio and television shows, are the closest thing to flying, and perhaps free falling, this side of an airplane. The Midwest Organic Lawn & Garden Conference, held this past week in Madison, Wisconsin, allowed for uniquely intimate access to the four main presenters: Howard Garrett, Peter Wild, Jeff Carlson and yours truly.
Several great points were made, many of which were covered in yesterday’s blog post here. A couple of other questions will stick with me for a long time, though, and I thought I’d share them here.
One woman asked what I thought about the Supreme Court decision to lift restrictions on what corporations can spend during political elections. On stage, I politely dodged the question; a lawn care forum didn’t seem like the time or the place. Later on that day, the questioner apologized and we both lamented privately that conglomerates like Monsanto and Dow will now have unfettered access to political influence through lining the pockets of candidates.
It was another question, however, that touched me in a deeply personal way. It concerned NFL quarterbacks and the seemingly disproportionate association with autism. At least five iconic former NFL quarterbacks — Rodney Peete, Doug Flutie, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason — have children with autism or other neurological disorders. “Is it because the quarterbacks are constantly licking their fingers after touching the ball that’s been on the field covered with pesticides?” asked the questioner.
Later in the conference I had a conversation with a golf course superintendent whose son, like mine, has ADHD. We both wonder if our exposure to pesticides at the time of our children’s conception and youth might have contributed to their affliction.
We’ll never know for sure, of course. And the pesticide industry will say that to even suggest such an association is “fear mongering.” Maybe all those quarterbacks having children with similar diseases is just a coincidence.
The fact is, though, we should never have to ask these questions. As that conference showed, again and again and again, it’s possible to have amazing playing fields, public parks and lawns without toxic pesticides. Killing dandelions should never be considered a good enough reason to utilize a toxic pesticide.
It’s as simple as that.