Why did we ever think that a pesticide that poisons bugs wouldn't be harmful to humans, too? A just-published study from British medical journal, the Lancet, finds that people whose blood levels contain high levels of a category of pesticides known as POPs (persistent organic pollutants) are at greater risk of developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. More research is needed, according to Dr. Oliver Jones, one of the study's authors:
"Of course correlation does not automatically imply causation. But if there is indeed a link, the health implications could be tremendous. At present there is very limited information. Research into adult onset diabetes currently focuses on genetics and obesity; there has been almost no consideration for the possible influence of environmental factors such as pollution."
The researchers found that thin people with higher concentrations of POPs in their blood were more likely to get diabetes than overweight people whose POP levels were low. This is huge (as it were); obesity has largely been blamed for the dramatic rise in adult-onset diabetes, which we've renamed type 2 diabetes now that it's showing up in kids, too. If environmental pollution turns out to be a factor, the pesticide industry had better brace itself for a new level of scrutiny.
One of the POPs turning up in our blood is DDT, banned in the '70s. Government authorities continued to allow DDT to be widely used as an agricultural pesticide for decades after evidence that farmers regularly exposed to it suffered all kinds of illnesses, including a high rate of asthma. Unfortunately, POPs linger so long in our environment that DDT and other compounds in this category still find their way into our food chain, and, therefore, our bodies, where they "can persist in body fat for very long periods of time following exposure," according to Science Daily.
Rachel Carson warned us about DDT back in 1962 in Silent Spring, her ground-breaking (or, rather, earth-saving) exposé on DDT's destruction of wildlife and potential harm to humans. Carson's book is largely credited with launching the environmental movement, but sometimes it seems as though we're just treading water -- much of it tainted with PCB's or agricultural runoff or plastic bags and other man-made debris.
Here we are, 45 years later, still battling with the residues of these persistent poisons. Makes you wonder about all the chemicals our industries use so freely in the production of our gotta-have consumer goods, including our foods. We need to understand two things, here: (1) a corporation's primary responsibility is to the health of its bottom line, not the health of the people who buy its products; (2) the government agencies that are supposed to protect American consumers have a long history of favoring business interests over our health and safety.
Our standards are far less stringent than the European Union's when it comes to the use of many chemicals in consumer goods. Even China -- China! -- has higher standards for some products than we do, which is why they make a grade of formaldehyde-laced plywood for Home Depot that's too toxic for their own market.
Organic food sales have skyrocketed in the U.S. in part because so many of us are willing to pay more for produce that's pesticide-free. Sadly, those who can't afford to pay more may be paying a price in other ways. Our out-of-whack eco-system raises a simple question: Who you callin' "pest?"
Originally posted on TakePart.com
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