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Dangerous Pesticides? Here’s Today’s Evidence

It still strikes me as odd, in this enlightened day and age, when I receive questions like the one a reporter asked yesterday: “Is there really any scientific proof that pesticides are bad?” Trying to be respectful, I did my best not to smirk, roll my eyes, or laugh out loud, especially since a TV camera was pointed in my direction.

As someone who tries to stay on top of the news related to lawn pesticides, I scroll through list after list almost every single day. Often compulsively. And often to the chagrin of my family, who would rather see more engaged in their activities. I need to work on that one.

But in the meantime, I subscribe to all sorts of Internet news feeds from the U.S., Europe and Canada. I receive key word alerts from Google and I receive emails and phone calls, often several times a day, that begin with the phrase: “Did you see this one . . .”

With that question from the reporter still ringing in my ears, here are just a few of the items I’ve seen today. All of them, I submit, rise to the level of answering her question about the scientific validity of pesticide toxicity.

1) ROUNDUP IN THE SOIL — Tom Castronovo, publisher of the Gardener News of New Jersey, emailed me this item about how the herbicide known as Roundup changes the biological soil profile of soil: Why does this make it bad? Well, when you change the biological profile of the soil, you make the soil and resulting plants more prone to insects and disease. That means that, in addition to copious amounts of Roundup — which has been proven scientifically to kill human cells by the way — you also need to apply large amounts of fungicides and insecticides to correct the problems caused by the Roundup.

2) COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER — We’ve been publishing information about this phenomenon for years, including the link between a chemical pesticide known as imidacloprid and the sudden disappearance of honeybees that began in 2006. That was the second full year after diazinon was banned by the EPA and imidacloprid was then chosen as the replacement pesticide for many applications in lawns, gardens, trees, shrubs and agriculture. Numerous sources today, including our Board member Tim Rhys of MovieMaker magazine, were buzzing with a new university study linking pesticides to the bee decline:

3) DURSBAN STILL CAUSING PROBLEMS — The EPA took chlorpyrifos, otherwise known as Dursban, off the market for homeowner use a decade ago. Farmers still use it, however, and studies continue to come out that prove how bad the material is: I still remember a letter I received from Allen James, the pesticide industry’s leading U.S. lobbyist. He was insisting that Dursban and diazinon had never been proven to be dangerous, but that the chemical companies agreed to the EPA bans simply due to negative public perception. This is the kind of spin that James’ organization, RISE, puts on all negative pesticide news.

4) WATER POLLUTION AND CHILDHOOD CANCER — We’ve long heard of “cancer clusters,” the catch phrase for neighborhoods where more people than the norm die of cancer. These clusters are often associated with water, since that is the most common denominator among families who live in close proximity. A new paper out this week from the Journal of Water and Health examines the link between cancer and living near contaminated water sheds: It brings new meaning to the phrase “ we are all in this together” when you think of water.

I’m sure if I dug a bit deeper, I could find more examples of this scientific information . . . from just today’s newswires. Even in just this brief glance, the use of pesticides hits us from so many angles: health, water, pollination (food), soil, developmental disorders.

So I guess my question is this: Do we really need to be asking for more proof that pesticides are dangerous?

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • Curt G.

    Great Blog Paul!

  • Pingback: Combating Your Garden’s Most Vicious Enemies

  • az pest control

    Does anyone know anything about pesticides? I need to ask someone who uses pesticides a few questions for a paper. Here are the questions, if you could help, that would be greatly appreciated.

    A. What are the names of the pesticides you use?
    What pests are they used on?
    B. What is the shelf-life of the pesticides?
    C. Are the pesticides biodegradable?
    D. Are the pesticides harmful to humans or pets?
    E. How often are the pesticides applied.

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