France joins Spain and Italy in banning the importation of cherries that have been treated with dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide. It is widely used in many countries to control insects, worms and mites. It is part of a huge family of poisons that target the nerve transmissions in insect pests and, unfortunately also can poison many unintended species.
Dimethoate is very toxic to bees, birds, amphibians, fish and mammals(which includes humans). In humans, the pesticide may enter the body by skin contact, inhalation or ingestion.
The organophosphates are efficient killers of insects and are routinely used on many food crops. Tiny amounts may be left as residues on fruits and vegetables destined for kitchens. The EPA lists pages of these efficient killers. Some have been banned for use in the USA. More have been banned in the EU and more countries are tightening the regulations regarding their use.
Thirty-six of them are presently registered for use in the United States, and all can potentially cause acute and subacute toxicity. EPA
While some health experts discount the health hazards of foods treated with dimethoate when applied according to recommended dosages, some food growing countries have developed reputations for ignoring safety cautions in order to increase production.
When sprayed crops are cleaned, most dirt and pesticide residue is removed. Some remains and some fruits and vegetables retain more than others. An investigation was conducted by a team working for CNN found that the following list of produce seemed to retain a high level of crop spray. If you are concerned, you might consider choosing the organically grown versions of the following:
Celery, peaches, strawberries, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale, collard greens, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, lettuce.
The banning of dimethoate treated cherries may be a movement by France, Spain and Italy to recognize the unintended bad consequences of the pesticide, or it may be a financial move aimed at protecting domestic cherry production. The three countries are the top producers of cherries in the EU.
Heptachlor is one of many pesticides known by the acronym POPs.
That makes them sound almost benign. Their actual name is Persistent Organic Pollutants. Many of these effective pesticides will persist in soil, plants and animals for many years. They also have the ability to bio-accumulate. They can remain in a body over many years and each additional exposure adds to the poison load.
Recent investigations have shown that humans do not have to handle or apply theses POPs to accumulate a load of poison. Studies conducted in California’s Central Valley where agriculture is a major industry have shown that one only needs to be in the area where the pesticide is used to have it show up in the blood. Tests done on inside workers – teachers, clerks and the like – showed significant levels of contamination. Agricultural workers were not part of the investigation.
People far from the contaminated agricultural sites can also acquire POPs. Eating crops grown in contaminated soil, eating fish, dairy, fatty meats from animals exposed will also pass along the poisons.
It is becoming increasingly important for consumers to make judgements and choices about where their food is sourced. It is also important for those who look for the “organic” label on their foods to consider whether the country of origin has high levels of pollution and whether the organic designation is made by a reputable organization.
US National Library of Medicine
Natural Resources Defense Council
Journal of Chilean Chemical Society
The emergence of MCR-1 heralds the breach of the last group of antibiotics, polymyxins, by plasmid-mediated resistance. Although currently confined to China, MCR-1 is likely to emulate other global resistance mechanisms such as NDM-1. The Lancet
TV news regularly trots out a health care provider to lecture us on the overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics have widespread effects and should only be used after careful thought, but many countries do not respect that admonition and if you have the money you can acquire the drugs. The agricultural use of antibiotics to encourage rapid growth is rarely mentioned.
It may be that some of the research being done on bacterial phages – viruses that attack bacteria – will fill in the weak spots. That research was pioneered by the Soviets, and phage therapy is used in Georgia, Russia and parts of Poland currently.
An orange grower outside Fresno has destroyed 400 acres of orange trees because he couldn’t supply water to them.
California is the leading agricultural state in the US. Their fields also supply much of Canada’s winter fresh vegetables.
Farmers are nothing if not adaptive. Some have leased out their land for the installation of solar panels. One farmer has leased out 480 acres of his land. “It was good land for production,” he said. “But reality dictates.”
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