Showing posts with label Industrial Agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Industrial Agriculture. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 March 2019

The European Union will soon ban a suspected carcinogenic fungicide which remains in use in Canada today. Ottawa remains silent.



by Larry Powell
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), a branch of the European Union, has declared that chlorothalonil "may cause cancer in humans." Several of the agency's findings were based on tests with lab rats. But it obviously believes their metabolisms are sufficiently similar to ours, to place chlorothalonil in "carcinogenicity category 1B - may cause cancer in humans." 
                                                  
Chlorothalonil is the active ingredient in 
several agricultural fungicides used to treat mildew, blight and mold in many crops.    

According to the newspaper, The Guardian, it is the most widely-used pesticide in all of the UK and the the most popular fungicide in the U.S. It's been used, worldwide, since the '60s.

A project based at Simon Fraser University, BC,  CAREX, reports that 581 tonnes of 
chlorothalonil were sold in that province alone in 2010 - 1,121 tonnes in Ontario in 2008. No figures are given for usage in other provinces. CAREX (short for CARcinogen Exposure) is made up of experts dedicated to informing Canadians about dangers they face from cancerous substances.

But the group also sounds alarms similar to those now raised in Europe. "Chlorothalonil is associated with cancer of the kidney and stomach." 

While Statistics Canada does not give a breakdown of active ingredients, the federal agency says almost one in four (23%) of all crop farms in this country applied fungicides of one kind or another in 2011. And it adds, farmers in Manitoba used fungicides "more frequently than those in any other province."

Here's what the European study finds: 

·      Chlorothalonil binds to red blood cells, delaying its removal from the body. 
·      It is very toxic if inhaled and can cause serious damage to the eyes and skin. 
·      It mainly attacks the kidneys and forstomach, producing both benign and malignant tumours. 
·      The treated lab animals were slow to mature sexually and gave birth to underweight young.
·      It produces acute risks to amphibians and long-lasting damage to fish.                                          
.      It could pose a hazard to groundwater, especially when it exceeds allowable standards.
·      But there was too little information to determine whether it harms wild mammals, aquatic species other than fish, or bees. (Earlier research, however, has linked it to diminishing numbers of bumblebees, as well.)
                                                                                                          
The study was peer-reviewed by experts in the field.

The Agency's conclusion was strikingly similar to one by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. That's when the WHO ruled that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world's most popular weedkiller, Roundup, "probably causes cancer in humans." 


Canadian regulators take a dramatically different approach.

Less than a year ago, Canada's Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency, PMRA - a division of Health Canada - released results of its "re-evaluation" of chlorothalonil. 

The agency did impose some restrictions, including its use on cut flowers grown in greenhouses. But its main finding was: "Most uses...meet current standards for protection of human health or the environment. It’s continued registration is acceptable." 

In Canada, the fungicide is sold under brand names such as "Daconil" and "Bravo."

It's offered as a treatment for a host of diseases in crops, including corn and soybeans. It's made and sold by such chemical giants as Syngenta. 

At this writing, it has now been well over three weeks since I emailed the PMRA for a response. I have not heard back.

-30-





Sunday, 24 February 2019

If you're a farmer who generously applies certain pesticides to your crops - losing your sense of smell has just taken on a whole new meaning. It could foreshadow health problems down the road.

Decades of research - recently published - has found a significant link between a chronic loss of smell (olfactory impairment or "OI") among American farmers, and their high exposure to certain chemicals they applied to their fields. Far from being a minor ailment, "OI" has long been identified as one of the earliest and most important symptoms of several neurological diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
by Larry Powell
The human "olfactory" system governs 
our sense of smell. Image - public domain.

Beginning in the '90s, a team of US scientists surveyed more than 11 thousand farmers from Iowa and North Carolina. They were asked about their experiences with farm chemicals during their lifetimes.

In 2015, there was a follow-up survey. Almost 12 hundred (10.6%) reported they had either lost, or significantly lost, their sense of smell. And those who reported incidents of unusually high exposure to pesticides during that time, were almost 50% more likely to report the symptom than those who did not. These mishaps are identified in the research as "High Pesticide Exposure Events" or "HPEEs." In them, the farmers either accidentally swallowed, inhaled or spilled the pesticides on their skin.

And those who did not wash thoroughly with soap and water within four hours of exposure, stood a greater chance of developing "OI". In other words, those who washed quickly likely helped reduce their harmful effects.

The pesticides named in the analysis include DDT, an insecticide no longer used in North America. The researchers believe the older farmers reporting symptoms were exposed to it, even before it was banned back in the '60s. DDT and the other insecticide named, lindane, are persistent and can still be found in food, the environment and even human tissue. They belong to a family known as organochlorines. Even before this latest research,  organochlorines had been associated with both Parkinson's and dementia.

Four other pesticides are also implicated. They include 2,4-D, a popular weedkiller still in use. 

Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, professor
of epidemiology, Michigan State U.
 
In an e-mail to "Planet in Peril," the lead author of the study, Honglei Chen (l.) further explains, "Poor sense of smell predicts higher mortality and risk for neurodegenerative diseases after accounting for other risk factors such as age, sex, smoking and health status."




The report concludes: "To the best of our knowledge, our study provides the first empirical evidence that acute high exposure to pesticides may lead to poor sense of smell among older farmers."


A ground sprayer in Canada, where farming methods, including
heavy inputs of chemical pesticides, closely 
resemble those in the US. A PinP photo.


The research was conducted by nine US experts. They represented groups including the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Their report was published in January in the journal, "Environmental Health Perspectives."  It calls for more studies to further explore the issue.

"OI" also affects us in other ways few might imagine. 

Even certain accidents can be attributed to a loss of smell. For example, if you can't smell properly, you may be unable to detect stove fires due to burning pots or pans, gas leaks, food gone bad or toxic substances in time to avoid an accident. Even weight gain has been shown to be highest among those with "OI." And among women age 45 to 60 years who were tested, an ability to smell well "significantly improved" their tension, depression and confusion levels. And pesticides may even be responsible for a loss of smell among honeybees, disrupting their ability to find pollen and nectar.  

Friday, 3 February 2017

Deadly new wheat disease threatens Europe’s crops

nature
Researchers caution that stem rust may have returned to world’s largest wheat-producing region. Details here.



A healthy wheat field in Manitoba. PinP photo. 
Related: The Fusarium-Glyphosate Connection (Video)


Sunday, 30 October 2016

The slow death of the Green Revolution

CountryGuide
Even as the negative impacts of the great Green Revolution pile up, there is hope.  Story here.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ten States Report Crop Damage From Illegal Dicamba Use on Monsanto’s GMO Seeds

Nation Of Change
To the horror of farmers across America’s farm belt, hundreds of thousands of crop acres have been adversely impacted by the apparent misuse of the drift-prone herbicide dicamba onMonsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend soybean and cotton plants. Story here.

It's Official: The Anthropocene Epoch Is Here

EcoWatch

The Anthropocene Epoch has begun, according to a group of experts assembled at the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa this week. Story here.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Monday, 22 February 2016

Government of Canada Invests $1 Million in Canola Research

Agro Pages

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced that the Government of Canada is investing over $980,000 in research to help drive innovation and profitability in the canola industry. Story here.



Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Venezuela’s Food Revolution

New Internationalist
That South American country has fought off big agribusiness and promoted agroecology, explains Nick Dearden. More here.
North America, on the other hand, embraces "Big Ag," with its warts, excesses, hazards and all. PinP photo.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

New Publication - Seed Laws That Criminalise Farmers: Resistance and Fightback

La Via Campesina

Peasant seeds – the pillar of food production – are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries... Story here. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Who Should Clean Up Big Ag’s Mess in the US? In Canada?

Organic Consumers' Association

A “Cow Palace” in Washington State threatens public health with its acres of untreated animal waste. A city in Iowa spends nearly $1 million a year to keep…Story here.

Measuring ecosystem disruption caused by marine heatwaves

 Nature Above, healthy bull kelp. Below, bull kelp degraded by a marine heatwave. DeWikiMan Marine heatwaves can displace therma...