When ingested, pesticides accumulate in the fat deposits in the body where they remain and eventually cause extreme damage. Infants and young children consuming breast milk ingest pesticides as does pregnant women who pass pesticides on to their fetus. Women who eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides, pass the pesticides on to their nursing children. People who eat meat that has been injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, and fed feed that is produced with pesticides, not only (for women) pass these chemicals on to their nursing children, but change testosterone in the bodies into estrogen. This conversion exponentially raises the body levels of estrogen and raises the risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women, as well as other dangerous reproductive problems.
The weight of scientific evidence suggests that long- and short-term exposure to most pesticides can cause significant adverse effects on human health in general. Following are the five most common health problems that pesticides pose:
Hormonal Disturbances: Common pesticides found in food have been described to affect the body’s hormonal balance, leading to abnormalities in behavior and in the development of abnormal reproductive organs. This has been seen in amphibians, reptiles, mammals and fish across all continents with pesticide and fertilizer usage. Atrazine is the largest selling pesticide and contaminant in the world. When exposed to atrazine, animals rapidly developed cancer cells and abnormal genetic reproductive organs. Now, more than 80% of amphibians are endangered from becoming extinct because of the water in which they live and thrive in is being compromised and contaminated by pesticide run off. What about for the human population?
Neurological Deficits: Recently, one of the nastiest pesticides in the market, dichlorvos, was withdrawn after being proven to cause problems to the human nervous system, potentially leading to death. This pesticide was originally developed by chemical weapon engineers in World War II as a nerve gas relative, but it was used occasionally in homes and restaurants to kill insects! Sad to say, however, withdrawn from the United States does not mean that it is not being used in foreign countries and imported into the U.S. for consumption.
Weakening the Immune System: Reports suggest that exposure to organochlorine pesticides in children can increase their rates of infection up to 15 times. Other reports indicate that the number of natural killer lymphocytes decreases in populations exposed to pesticides.
Food Poisoning: An episode of pesticide food poising was reported in southeast Turkey in 1955 resulting in the death of 90% of those affected. Similar episodes were reported in the United States in the 1980s. Most of the cases were related to misuse or overuse of pesticides.
Carcinogens: Laboratory studies provide convincing evidence that some pesticides can act in promoting cancer cell growth and lymphomas.
More and more people are wisely avoiding pesticide contamination by opting for organic or pesticide free food. Others argue that governments must act by creating controls that ensure pesticide safety.
Interestingly, current standards for approved usage of many pesticides have been established with adults in mind, not children or the elderly, meaning some people may still be at risk, even when guidelines are adhered to.
Take these simple steps to avoid pesticides in your food:
•Buy locally grown and harvested, organic produce whenever possible.
•When buying packaged products, look for those that contain organic ingredients—the more organic, the better.
•Don’t limit your organic products to food alone – look for organic varieties of body care products and clothing as well.
Resources: GlobalHealingCenter.com, EPA.gov, Nature.com