One of the reasons that many of us purchase organic is because we don’t want to put food into our bodies that contains synthetic chemicals.
Yet even though we may not eat conventionally-grown food ourselves, we still need to be very aware (and concerned) about what is going on in the non-organic world. Why?
Because the toxic chemicals that are sprayed on conventionally-grown food end up in the water supply.
And the EPA is not doing its job when it comes to protecting the integrity of our water.
WHAT IS ATRAZINE AND WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT
One of the most widely used chemicals that gets sprayed on conventionally-grown food is Atrazine, a toxic weed killer.
According to 2008 data from the USDA Pesticide Data Program, Atrazine has been found in 94% of of our water supply.
Europeans are so scared of it that they have banned its use there. Not surprisingly, politicians in the U.S. allow it.
76 million pounds of it per year gets dumped on our fields, most of it in the Midwest. Yes, 76 million pounds of it per year.
And the health effects of Atrazine?
– The Pesticide Action Network reports that it has been linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, and cancer.
– The President’s Cancer Panel reported that (PDF) Atrazine “has been shown to affect mammary gland development in animal studies with some findings suggesting multigenerational effects.”
– A new study in Environmental Science reported that women who live in agricultural communities in Illinois experience much great menstrual cycle irregularities than women who live in Vermont, an area where Atrazine is sparingly used.
– Professor Tyrone Hayes, Endocrinologist at the University of California, reported from his research that frogs exposed to Atrazine were turning into hermaphrodites.
Syngenta, the world’s largest chemical manufacturer and maker of Atrazine, tried to convince Professor Hayes not to publish the results from his research, but he did not give in to their pressure.
Below is a MUST-WATCH video about Atrazine by The Huffington Post Investigative Fund.
RECENT (IN)ACTION BY THE EPA
Even though the EPA officially says that Atrazine is “not likely to be a carcinogen”, the agency’s independent Scientific Advisory Panel had a different conclusion when it met this past July.
In minutes from the meeting which were just released last week, the panel said that there was “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential” for ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hairy-cell leukemia, and thyroid cancer.
(Currently, the EPA lumps all forms of cancers together, instead of isolating each one to determine if Atrazine may have caused it, and therefore makes its general conclusion about the chemical’s likelihood of causing cancer.)
The minutes from the meeting also said many on the panel believed that “the epidemiology data failed to provide compelling evidence that Atrazine is not carcinogenic.”
Essentially, the independent panel disagrees with the EPA’s assessment of Atrazine and believes that the EPA should change its officially position from “unlikely to be carcinogenic” to “inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential.”
Will the EPA take the advice of its scientific advisory panel anytime soon?
Lobbyists for the chemical industry have tremendous influence in Washington D.C., and any change in Atrazine’s regulatory status could potentially impact Syngenta’s sales numbers.
As we see time and time again, the health of our citizens takes a back seat when it comes to profits of major food and chemical companies.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Given that the EPA isn’t going to crack down on the chemical companies anytime soon, here are a few important things that we can do:
– Continue to support and eat organic food. By consuming organic food, we are keeping toxic chemicals out of our bodies AND our public water supply.
– Make sure our kids are getting organic food. Researchers from Harvard have said that children who are exposed to above-average levels of pesticides will be twice as likely to suffer from ADHD.
– Sign up for the mailing list of the Pesticide Action Network. This organization does a fantastic job keeping us informed as to what is going with pesticides in our country.