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.
Wikileaks has obtained and leaked some information on what is being discussed, but much more remains shrouded in secret.
Three areas have been highlighted for concern.
· Control of imports may be lost. Dairy farmers in Canada buy quotas and provide all milk and dairy products. There are no imports. Other countries have different standards, for instance, the USA allows dairy cattle to be injected with bovine growth hormone which forces the cows to produce more milk. Some BGH is passed on in the milk. BGH is virtually the same as human growth hormone. The hormone also shortens the life of the cows. Canada could be sued by a corporation if it refused to allow such product into Canada.
· Patent laws may be overridden by foreign corporations. Currently Eli Lilly is suing the Canadian government for hundreds of millions of dollars for what would be a patent violation in the USA but not in Canada. They are basing that claim on NAFTA.
· Privacy is becoming harder to maintain. There would be no guarantees that currently collected electronic information which is kept within Canada would be held in Canada. If a foreign corporation felt unfairly treated in the contract bid process, they could sue.
· It is unclear if governments could continue to be boosters for local products. For instance, British Columbia has a “buy BC” campaign.
Canada has already had labour strife around the importation of foreign workers. While many jobs may be created in the country digging mines and exploiting resources, would the employed be Canadians paid Canadian wages and benefits? While that sounds far-fetched, recently a Chinese owned mine site advertised for workers and made one of the requisite skills fluency in Mandarin.
TPP may have some positives for Canadians, but the ongoing secrecy makes it difficult to judge. The country is in a “technical recession”. The federal government is facing elections in the fall. Thinking people might well ask why the secrecy when its validation has been called one of the biggest agreements in history.
Blogger, gardener, farmer. Working toward food security and a 30 foot
diet. Addicted to reading. Love this planet, especially my little corner
on Vancouver Island, Canada