Robins Aren't Singing - Due to Pesticides
Robins Aren't Singing - Due to Pesticides Print E-mail

A new study indicates that Robins and other birds are still suffering damage from exposure to DDT, despite the fact the pesticide was banned in the United States over three decades ago. New research shows that the area of the brain affected causes birds with high exposure levels to be unable to sing and protect territory. Researchers estimate that at least 15 to 20 generations of robins have been affected since the pesticide was first applied. The study provides further evidence that many of the toxic chemicals and pesticides we use today will continue to impact the environment and public health for generations to come. "Yes, it happened historically, but there are still problems with pesticides," says Andrew Iwaniuk, author of the study. "They have an extremely long half-life and just because we use one today, that doesn't mean it will always be safe."
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_1209.cfm


In California - the leading agricultural state in the U.S. - use of cancer-causing pesticides increased 121% between 1991 and 1999. We face a powerful, politically influential pesticide industry with a single goal - to expand its multibillion-dollar business. For example, in 2000, Monsanto sold more than $2.6 billion worth of Roundup around the world. The entire planet is being used as the corporations’ laboratory! (Pesticide Action Network, PANNA, May 2002) These chemicals tend to accumulate in fatty tissue, and one recent study found that they have shown up in the breast milk of women who live in the Arctic. These chemicals also appear in virtually all food products in a typical American diet.
(Pesticide Action Network -PANNA, 2002)

Sweden launched a progressive risk reduction program in 1986 and, over 15 years, has succeeded in cutting pesticide use by 68%. The Swedish National Chemicals Inspectorate estimated a reduction in health risks of 77% during those 15 years.
(“Reduced Pesticides Accompanied by Reduced Health Risks” - “Pesticides in Swedish Agriculture 1986-2000,” Pesticide News #54, Dec. 2001, in Rachel Carson Council News (# no. 92), Winter 2001/2002)

Essential to the understanding of pesticide action is the dual nature of the chemicals’ toxicities. They have their intended effects on non-target life forms - for example: herbicides intended to kill weeds can damage tomato plants, insecticides intended to kill mosquitoes can decimate bee populations, etc. Since pesticides are released regularly into the environment, and because many (although classified as hazardous waste by the regulatory agencies) tend to be regarded as safe, and chemical pesticides have a killing function as well as other toxic traits, they represent a recurring, insidious, and insufficiently explored threat.

Pesticides effects on the ecosystem are not fully revealed by EPA-mandated tests. The real tests occur in the environment where exposures to many different species to combinations of pesticides and other contaminants take place.
(“Out of Control,” Pesticides Adrift, Rachel Carson Council, Inc., Oct. 2000)



Since pesticides cause primarily CNS (central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord) and other neurological symptoms, it is not surprising that pesticides are one of the main causes or contributors to the emergence of chemical sensitivity. They are the perpetrators of the perfect crime, as they are ubiquitous and generally odorless. They can cause insidious or delayed, yet progressive symptoms even weeks after an exposure, once the threshold for an individual’s tolerance is finally exceeded (Gershon 1961). If the pesticides’ innate toxicity (having been specifically designed as metabolic interrupters and neurotoxins, initially for chemical warfare) were not enough, many of the secondary metabolites (breakdown products) are even more toxic than the parent compounds.

Recall that if the body cannot handle a chemical, sometimes it shifts to a chemical pathway that actually creates a carcinogen or another dangerous chemical. Some of these are toxic enough to damage the system, sometimes permanently, and in many cases the damage continues to progress, even though there is no further exposure. But worst of all, by their very nature as toxic and highly reactive compounds, pesticides are unstable enough to make finding any identifiable metabolites nearly impossible. Hence, as stated, they make the perfect crime.
(Booklet: “Chemical Sensitivities,” Sherry Rogers, M.D., recognized expert in Environmental Illnesses, 1995) Dr. Rogers calls us, the general public, the ”Self-Poisoners,” and warns us that we are exposing ourselves to a massive chemical assault that can wreck our health.



An hour’s exposure to a commonly used crop pesticide could render your immune system defenseless. This is a disturbing finding of a new laboratory study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando, Fla. The research, conducted at Tennessee State University, found an ingredient commonly found in a fungicide used to protect potato, pecan and sugar beet crops and in a pesticide used to control Colorado beetles, that could cause irreversible damage to human killer cells - - the immune system’s first line of defense against cancer and viruses.

The cells that were exposed to the chemical Triphenyltin (TPT), were rendered almost helpless within hours after exposure, says chemistry professor Margaret Whelan, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., who oversaw the research (also contributing was Jacqueline Moline, M.D., associate professor of occupational and environmental medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City). Even after the immune cells were removed from the TPT and left to rest in a clean environment for 6 days, they couldn’t recover from the chemical assault, she adds. “In fact, the cells grew weaker after 6 days and were less able to fight cancer cells than they were an hour or two after the initial exposure.” After one hour, Whelan says the immune cells lost 50% to 60% of their tumor-fighting power. By the time 6 days had passed, their strength deteriorated further, down to 84%. The immune cells couldn’t destroy any leukemia cells, and the damage appeared to be permanent.
(“Pesticide Chemical Leaves Immune System Helpless, Lab study shows crop chemical dehabilitates human killer cells,” HealthScout.com/healthcentral - April 2002)



Manufacturers frequently withhold information about the ingredients in their product, using the claim that it is a trade secret, and even in the case of pesticides, where governments maintain closer oversight, it is impossible to obtain coherent data on the production of specific pesticides - the government figures available in the U.S. and elsewhere are limited and disjointed at best. (p. 136)

A study in Minnesota found several strong signs of a link between pesticide exposure and birth defects in that state’s farming regions and specifically implicated several endocrine-disrupting compounds including the herbicide 2,4-D in higher rates of abnormalities such as urogenital defects. The study found that children conceived in the spring, when herbicides are routinely applied, are at particular risk of birth defects. The researchers noted that birth defects occur at a much higher rate in the male offspring of those who apply pesticides than in the general population. Birth defects in the children of pesticide applicators in heavy-use areas increased at an additional one per hundred - a rate ten thousand times higher than the federal threshold for cancer effects. With cancer effects, a frequency of one per million prompts regulation. (p. 256)

Agent Orange was the mixture that contained the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, the latter a chemical easily contaminated with dioxin during its manufacture. (p. 114) Veterans learned that Agent Orange had been contaminated with dioxin. (p. 114) Today the U.S. uses thirty times more synthetic pesticides than in 1945. In this same period, the killing power per pound of the chemicals used by 900,000 farms and 69 million households has increased tenfold. Pesticide use in the U.S. alone amounts to 2.2 billion pounds a year, roughly 8.8 pounds per capita. 35% of the food consumed in the U.S. has detectable pesticide residues, and the analytical methods used by the U.S. detect only one-third of the more than 600 pesticides in use. (p. 138)

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