Carey Gillam in her book, "White Wash, The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science," writes that "It is undeniable that we've allowed our food, our water, our soil, our very selves to become dangerously doused with chemicals."
Her work focuses on the Monsanto Company. Monsanto gave us DDT, PCB's and Agent Orange. All three products were promoted and defended by Monsanto and U.S. government agencies. All three products were eventually banned because of their damage to human life and the environment. They now offer us a range of weed poison products known as Roundup, with its chief ingredient glyphosate.
In the Northshire, it's used on our lawns and gardens. Perhaps it's used on our town parks and school playgrounds.
In the year 2000, Monsanto introduced glyphosate-tolerant soybean, corn, canola, beet, alfalfa and other crop seeds. These seeds contain the weed poison. The plants that grow from these seeds contain the weed poison. Monsanto acknowledges this and maintains that the levels found in food products are safe. The question is how much residue is found in the breakfast cornflakes our children eat or the corn chips adults eat. We don't know. For the past 20 years the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have "steadfastly avoided testing for glyphosate residues in the American food supply."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2014 sharply rebuked the FDA for not telling the public of their skipping over glyphosate testing. It further criticizes FDA's capability to do any accurate pesticide testing, "FDA's ability to reliably identify specific commodities that may be at high risk of violating pesticide residue tolerances is limited."
Focusing on pregnant women, fetuses and infants: What do we know? Multiple studies suggest pesticides are harming children's brains and bodies. Research shows that children of pregnant women with pesticides in their urine and blood samples suffer IQ and neurobehavioral development issues as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnoses.
In December of 2016, Phillipe Grandjean, a Harvard professor of environmental health and an expert on environmental epidemiology, co-authored a report for the European Parliamentary Research Service.
The report stated, "Recent insight into the toxic effects of pesticide exposure suggests that early-life exposure is of greatest concern, especially prenatal exposure that may harm brain development. No systematic testing is available since testing for neurotoxicity — especially developmental neurotoxicity-has not consistently been required as part of the (regulatory) registration process."
The report further urges women who are pregnant, who plan to become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding to seek organically grown foods.
A study in Chemical Research in Toxicology reports that glyphosate can be toxic to human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells. It can pass through the placenta.
In Indianapolis, Indiana, Dr. Paul Winchester, the Medical Director of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, began to notice what reseachers call a "cluster" of symptoms among news babies. For two years (2015-2016) he and seven other researchers tested pregnant women and followed them through delivery.
In April of 2017, Dr. Winchester presented his findings at the Children's Environmental Health Conference. The research showed that over 90% of the women had glyphosate in their urine. Women with higher levels of the weed poison were found "to have shorter pregnancies and babies with lower birth weights." These outcomes are believed to translate to long-term health issues.
This is the first study to show that the weed poison glyphosate is in pregnant women. "This is a huge issue", said Dr. Winchester. "Everyone should be concerned about this."
The last word goes to the best-selling author and naturalist Jane Goodall: "How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons.
This article is provided as part of Healthy Environment-Healthy Kids, an ongoing educational project of Transition Town Manchester.