In a survey of 1,000 people, 71 percent of Americans expressed a concern over the number of chemicals and pesticides in their food supply.1 The respondents' largest concerns were about toxic pesticides (88 percent) and genetically engineered (GE) foods (79 percent).
Research has linked long-term pesticide exposure to infertility, birth defects,2,3 endocrine disruption,4 neurological disorders5 and cancer.6 It is only a common sense conclusion that ingesting and being exposed to fewer pesticides would result in improved health.
The amount of pesticides used both commercially and in residential areas has grown immensely since 1945. More than 1 billion pounds are used each year in the U.S. alone.
The recent CHAMACOS study, a longitudinal study examining the impact of chemicals on children's health, found exposure to organophosphates and flame retardants shortened pregnancies, lowered the IQs of the exposed children and increased the risk of attention deficit disorder (ADD).7
Science Outpaces Scientific Study
One of the more commonly used types of pesticides is organophosphates, first developed as a nerve gas during World War II. These were poisons designed to efficiently interrupt signals between neurons. This action has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's.
The number of brand names of organophosphate pesticides is extensive.8 They are commonly used as insecticides and make up 70 percent of the pesticides used in the U.S.
Pesticides are divided based on what they target, such as insecticides, larvicides, fungicides, bactericides, rodenticides and herbicides. Unfortunately, the development of these chemicals and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval happens more quickly than long-term research can keep up with.
This means development is outpacing scientific study of long-term health problems related to chemical use. Quoted in the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Kent Boyum, Ph.D., director of economic development and government relations for Maharishi Vedic City, said,9
"If something has a result in two weeks, it's clear. If it has a result in 20 years, it's pretty hard to figure it out unless you have lots of data and lots of historical information and then it's too late for all those poor people who had that negative effect on their lives."
Monsanto's Roundup Ready seed program, which produces plants resistant to glyphosate, claimed at its inception it would reduce the use of the more toxic weed killer, atrazine. However, this hasn't happened.
Since the mid-1990s the use of atrazine has declined only 22 percent while glyphosate use has jumped by 3,000 percent.10
Health concerns are not limited to agricultural areas, but include anywhere herbicides are sprayed, such as school grounds, parks and residential areas.
Several communities in Iowa have worked to reduce exposure their children experience through the reduction or elimination of pesticides in areas children frequent. Association with cancer and lower IQs in exposed children fueled the response.