DREAMS OF ADEQUATE PESTICIDE TESTING
Professor Warren P. Porter and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have outlined six major inadequacies in the present testing of pesticide toxicity:
DREAMS for public awareness
Thus, our actual knowledge of pesticide dangers is woefully inadequate. For years Professor Porter has pointed out that government and industry tests, on which "tolerances" are based, often use cancer as the endpoint, but cancer takes time to develop and can be uncertain. In contrast, for many years Professor Porter has found immune and hormonal effects in his animals practically immediately. In regard to mixtures of manmade contaminants to which we are all exposed, Professor Porter and his colleagues state: "To our knowledge, fertilizer-pesticide interactions are not a part of any official toxicological testing protocol. This is an important shortcoming that needs further investigation because such mixtures are ubiquitous in aquatic environments, soils, and the atmosphere."
In Toxicology and Industrial Health (1999) 15(1-2), pages 133 to 150, in addition to setting forth DREAMS, the authors describe their own five-year research project and summarize a great deal of the research by others, particularly on the effects in the three intimately interrelated systems: reproductive, immune, and neurological. Briefly, (1) under reproductive, we have the continuing decline in human sperm quality and quantity; (2) under neurological, we have decreased learning ability, motor skills, and stamina, plus overly irritable behavior and aggression, all affected by exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, many of which are pesticides; and (3) under immunological, many effects have been shown including deleterious ones on our defensive endocrine systems.
Many pesticides can effect thyroid hormone concentrations, which are "critical for fetal brain development" and "could determine an individual’s disposition in adulthood." Connections have been found with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and with many forms of cancer. "The mechanism of cancer induction appears to be hormone imbalance, rather than genotoxic." One doctor, who was preparing interested members of the public for a conference on "endocrine disrupters," described the exposed people as "sick, sterile, and stupid."
Realizing that pesticides can cause many deleterious effects on the individual level, Professor Porter and colleagues have presented an interpretation of how effects on the molecular and organ levels in individual people can impact on ALL human social systems:
In their own current research, which has lasted for five years, Professor Porter and colleagues have been testing immune, endocrine, and behavior effects on certain strains of male mice with levels of two pesticides plus nitrate at levels found in groundwater throughout the United States. The pesticides chosen, aldicarb and atrazine, are the two that most frequently contaminate our groundwater and, of course, nitrate from chemical fertilizers is also a very frequent groundwater contaminant. "Dosing was through voluntary consumption of drinking water." They "measured aggressive behavior, thyroxine hormone levels, and the ability to make an antibody against a foreign protein." They used all possible combinations of the two pesticides and the nitrate and observed effects frequently with mixtures, especially a pesticide with the nitrate, and seldom with any of these groundwater contaminants used alone.
This article is powerful in that it points out the gross deficiencies in our testing of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including pesticides, and shows the minute doses at which deleterious effects occur.Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, Summer 1999, pages 3-4.