Apr 4, 2018

No pesticide residue levels are safe

Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s  Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides,
By André Leu, 2018,  
Published by Acres USA, 205pp.

Reviewed by Alan Broughton.

André Leu is an organic tropical fruit grower  at Daintree in North Queensland. He  is the former president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements(IFOAM), the peak world organic farming body.

This book shows there is plenty of peer-reviewed science finding monumental faults with pesticide use and regulation, science that regulators do not use in their deliberations. André Leu uses this science to show that pesticide safety is based on data-free myths.

There are five myths: that pesticides are  rigorously tested, that residues in food are so small they are harmless, that pesticides quickly biodegrade, that regulations are reliable, and that pesticides are essential for agriculture.

A total of 232 chemicals have been found in placental cord blood of newborn babies  in the   United States. Many of these are endocrine disruptors, affecting the developing brain and hormones of children. No safety tests are done on the young – all are performed on adolescent or adult animals (usually rats). Even minute amounts are dangerous for foetuses and babies. Some pesticides, for example glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in theworld, have a greater effect on hormones in parts per billion than in parts per million. This is because the body can recognise higher amounts and reject them.

Pesticide exposure in children is linked to lower IQ, ADHD, autism, inability to manage anger, schizophrenia and depression.

Testing is done on only the active ingredient of a  pesticide formulation, assuming that the additives are inert, yet they are put there to increase the killing power of the pesticide. Some of these are more toxic that the active ingredient.

The majority of pesticides have never undergone tests. Residues of glyphosate are not tested for at all in foods. Testing is not done on combinations of chemicals, yet most produce contains more than one type of chemical residue. One plus one can equal 100, as each interacts with the other synergistically.

When pesticides breakdown, the by-product is sometimes more toxic that the original.Malathion  for example, one of the most common insecticides, including for treating head lice,breaks down into a compound 100 times more toxic. Regulators do not test for breakdown compounds.

Many countries have no pesticide regulatory system at all. In countries where a system exists, regulatory committees commonly contain representatives of the pesticide manufacturers.

Regulators rely on studies done by the manufacturer, which inevitably shows the product  to be benign. These studies are commercial-in- confidence, unpublished and unavailable to independent scientists and the public. Independent studies, which are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, are not considered by regulators.

This book contains graphs showing the stunning correlation of increased incidence of many common disorders with the huge increase in glyphosate use dating from 1995 when Roundup resistant genetically modified corn, soy and canola became available. These disorders include autism, thyroid cancer, obesity, Alzeimers disease, diabetes, bladder cancer, multiple sclerosis, intestinal infection and liver cancer.  While  correlation does not prove causation, the chance of coincidence is estimated at 1 in 10,000.

It is only in recent years that the effect of glyphosate on gut microbes has been discovered. Glyphosate is registered as an antibiotic, and this is what it does to gut biology. The above disorders are linked to poor digestion.

The last myth that André Leu tackles if the myth that pes ticides are essential to agriculture in order to prevent starvation. This is demonstratively false, as the studies of yields of a large number of organic farms in the world shows. Organic farming is capable of achieving equal yields with no pesticide use, no net greenhouse gas production, greater biodiversity and lower energy use. Chemical farming receives 99.6% of world agricultural  research funding. If more went to biological agriculture, its yields would be even higher.

I have been involved in the organic farming movement for more than 30 years and have written on pesticide issues  many times. However, I was shocked by the full extent of the reality and the danger.

André Leu has done a great service, bringing together hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific investigations to show the deception humanity has been subjected to. Nobody can trust the regulatory system and nobody should be eating contaminated food.