Thursday, August 11, 2011

Listen to the Honey Bees and Pollinators Before They Are Gone Forever

                                                 
(This article I wrote is rather lengthy but it touches on a subject that everyone living on the planet should be concerned about.)
                                             


“Warning, eating fresh fruits and vegetables may cause learning disabilities, cancer, many other severe health conditions, and even death, for you and your family.” I realize that sounds farfetched, but unfortunately it is true. A warning should appear on many foods consumed by the unsuspecting public. There are health risk labels on tobacco and alcohol products notifying the consumer that the use of those products “may cause health problems.” In the meantime, people are unknowingly eating, breathing and drinking highly toxic residue from pesticides, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in commercial farming, and listed as “safe for human consumption in low doses.” Why is it that there is no notification to the public from the FDA regarding food supplies that have potentially toxic pesticide residues? They do not allow people the option to make the choice as to whether or not they wish to subject their families to harmful toxins. It is up to the people to take a stand and not leave it up to the government to do what is right for humanity and the planet. We must all pay closer attention and educate ourselves on what goes on in commercial agriculture, start buying organic products, and contact our government and let them know that we no longer find this acceptable. We must demand immediate changes to take place to ensure the health of American families and the environment. We can no longer trust that the government is doing all that it can to ensure that the food that ends up on our plate will not end up destroying us, just like the Honey bees (as well as many other pollinators).


Honey bees are responsible for pollinating one third of our food supply. They are crucial to human survival. Over the last several years, billions of bee colonies have been collapsing. Scientist named this phenomenon, “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).” Recent studies have found that toxic pesticides, which the government allows commercial agricultural farmers to spray on crops, contribute greatly to the cause. However, these pesticides remain in fresh fruits, vegetables, and many of the food products on the market today. One such pesticide in question is “neonicotinoids”, a neurotoxin that affects the central nervous system of insects. This chemical explains the reason why the honey bees leave the hive and do not return. Having a destroyed central nervous system, they simply cannot remember where the hive is. These chemicals are still widely used in the United States but many other countries have banned the use of neonicotinoids since 1999, due to the effect on the honey bees. Unsuspecting consumers, trusting in the government to do the right thing to ensure safety, are consuming these products and ending up with dangerous chemicals in their blood stream. Evidence is increasing that daily overexposure to harmful chemicals is causing serious health problems, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and learning disabilities in children, according to the Pesticide Action Network.


Also, according to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) website, two pesticides (DDT degradants and chlorpyofos), directly absorbed in our systems by the foods we eat, have been found in approximately 90% of Americans tested. This is only two out of the dozens of pesticides found in our food. The PAN website, called “Whatsonmyfood.org”, collects data directly from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in regards to residual pesticides and the toxin levels in various different foods. For example, according to PAN, “48 different pesticides were found on spinach, including 5 known or probable carcinogens.” According to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, 54 pesticide residues were detected in strawberries that were tested. Nine of those pesticides listed were “known or probable carcinogens, 24 suspected hormone disrupters, 11 neurotoxins, 12 developmental or reproductive toxins”, as well as “19 honey bee toxins.” I have never seen a label with those frightening ingredients on the packages of fresh strawberries that I have purchased from my supermarket. That is another good reason to be overly concerned, switch to organic and pesticide free foods whenever possible, and complain to the government until they listen.


In a recent study performed by Harvard University (and reported on the PAN website), it was determined that pesticides, even small amounts, could have a major effect on the brain. Unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable. “Finding :: Kids with above-average pesticide exposures are 2x as likely to have ADHD.” Many of these pesticides pass through the mother’s placenta directly to the fetus while the brain is forming, as well as to the newborn through breast milk. Many children today, labeled with a condition called “Attention Deficit Disorder”, are being prescribed drugs with undesirable side effects such as Ritalin. It might be a good idea for parents to insist on the child having tests performed, looking for pesticides in the blood, before resorting to drugs to fix the problem. Who knows what problems can occur down the line if symptoms of overexposure to chemicals are just relieved with medications. Could it be possible it could lower the immune system and lead to cancer?


Cancer is a growing epidemic, especially in children. A lot of time and money goes into researching a cure. In the meantime, we need to eliminate the obvious causes. Years ago when I was a child, I never really heard of too many cases of cancer. I remember maybe one elderly uncle dying of colon cancer but that was about it. Today, everywhere you look, the old and the very young are dying from all forms of cancer. My son’s 18-year-old friend is currently battling cancer of the lymph nodes. Coincidentally, he lives next door to a non-organic produce farm. Cancer, such as pancreatic cancer, used to be rare but has become much more common over the last several years. My Father, may he rest in peace, survived World War II, yet he could not survive pancreatic cancer. He had quit smoking due to his fear of getting lung cancer. He replaced smoking with an addiction to eating almonds. Oddly, I just read on the PAN website that non-organic almonds tested had “known or probable carcinogens, suspected hormone disrupters, neurotoxins, and traces of honey bee toxins.” Furthermore, on the PAN website, recent studies show that over 500,000 men, women and children die each year from cancer and “one out of five Americans can expect to die from cancer.” This is frightening and it is far from normal. They say they are uncertain of how pesticides in our food contributes to those numbers, but the “President’s Cancer Panel” of the National Cancer Institute just recently delivered a report to President Obama. Part of the report states, “The American people — even before they are born — are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.” In addition, a woman by the name of Sandra Steingraber, biologist and cancer survivor, wrote, “We have sprayed pesticides … throughout our shared environment. They are now in amniotic fluid. They’re in our blood. They’re in our urine. They’re in our exhaled breath. They are in mothers’ milk … What is the burden of cancer that we can attribute to this use of poisons in our agricultural system? ... We won’t really know the answer until we do the other experiment — which is to take the poisons out of our food chain, embrace a different kind of agriculture, and see what happens.”


Regrettably, we are up against is a “chemical cartel. As it stands now, the “big six” control the fate of our food and farming. Six major multinational companies (Bayer, Dow, Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta, and DuPont) have “a power over the world’s seed, pesticide and biotech industries”, according yet again to PAN. These huge conglomerates come up with new pesticides and genetically modified seeds (GMO’s) and use the public as “human guinea pigs” to perform tests on. We are uninformed and trust in our government to ensure our safety, but money talks. Again, we should be properly educated. Report less on Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen antics, make public announcements when testing new pesticides on agricultural crops, and when testing out GMO’s, without knowing the long term affects on nature and human health.


The next time you sit down to enjoy a meal that the FDA approves as safe to consume, think about the disappearance of the pollinators and what that really means for humanity. The honey bee crisis as a warning for humankind to become aware of the damaging effects of pesticides. PAN reports that researchers have found that children who ate organic foods had far less pesticides in their bodies and “increasing your consumption of organic foods can have an immediate impact on your pesticide exposure levels.” Many families cannot afford to buy organic products due to higher costs. We need to urge our government to look for ways to eliminate harmful pesticides and offer more affordable organic foods for everyone. In the meantime, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington D.C., has a website at http://www.foodnews.org/ in which one can go to find out what foods to avoid if organic alternatives are not available or affordable. On the EWG website, there is a chart listing the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” of the fruits, vegetables, and their toxic levels collected from data from the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For example, on “The Dirty Dozen” list of foods, to buy organic (or avoid), is celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes, and imported grapes. These are very regular items that we all enjoy on a daily basis and have no idea is harming our health. Again, where is the warning label when we make these purchases? The “Clean 15” is fruits and vegetables that have lower pesticides such as onions, avocado, eggplant and more. Unfortunately, the “Clean 15” is not ordinarily food that children prefer. Nonetheless, how would the consumer know this information unless she was aware of websites such as the Environmental Working Group’s website or warnings on the labels?


Unfortunately, much of the population already has toxic chemicals in their systems, but we need to protect the unborn, the young, and ourselves so they can live a healthy life on a healthy planet that they so deserve. We cannot take the attitude that individually we cannot make a difference. It is up to each person to get involved to make necessary changes. People can sign up for email alerts and updated information from organizations like the Pesticide Action Network that were put together by scientists, engineers, lawyers and a whole team of experts to keep the public informed and force the government to take action. For the sake of your family, be more aware of what you are placing in your grocery carts. Buy organic and pesticide free foods whenever possible, otherwise avoid consuming the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables. Most of all, we must all harass our government by sending letters to the local Congressmen, Senators and the White House, letting them know that we are aware and demand necessary changes in our agricultural system.


The honey bees cannot speak for themselves but we can be the voice of our children, ourselves, nature, and our planet. If nature could speak, pollinators like the honey bees would demand that humans stop using toxic chemicals on crops they pollinate are causing them to get sick and die. Children, grandchildren, and future children of the world need everyone to speak for them now. The next time you sit down to enjoy a meal that the FDA approves as safe to consume, think about the disappearance of the pollinators and what that really means for humanity. The honey bee crisis as a warning for all to become aware of the damaging effects of toxic contaminates to human health when residues are consumed in our foods.


We teach our children the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, unaware that the foods that we are encouraging them to eat, is actually causing them harm. Everyone must become an environmentalist and activist. We all have the right to enjoy the freedom of savoring sweet strawberries, biting into a crunchy apple, and providing our families with nutritious and wholesome fruits, vegetables, and foods pesticide free. We cannot just sit back and wait for the government to take action. Protect yourself, protect your family, and protect the environment before we all collapse and die from over exposure to toxins inflicted upon us…just like the innocent honey bees and the world's valuable pollinators.