WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE CAN HURT YOU
In NOHA, all of us know about the hidden assault from pesticides. The public walks into a grocery store and sees a vast array of beautiful fruits and vegetables-not labeled that they are "certified organic." Immediately, many ignorant people pick up the handsome produce and fail to realize that all of it should be labeled "directly poisoned by pesticides."
In March 1993, Eliot Coleman, a biological farmer and consultant on organic farming, gave the keynote address at the Eleventh National Forum on Pesticides put on by the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides in Washington, DC, on "Plant Positive: a New Approach to Pests." He pointed out:
Insects and disease in agriculture should be seen as indicators (symptoms) of stressed, sub-optimal plant growth rather than as enemies to be destroyed. The obvious solution is to focus on correcting the growing conditions (the cause) in order to optimize the physiological well-being of the plant. Insects and disease bring a message when plants are under stress. Since it is a message we haven't understood, we have tried to kill the messenger. If we pay attention to the message, we will focus on preventing pest damage by providing the proper cultural conditions for unstressed plant growth.
Coleman points out that many environmental stresses cause "an increase in the amount of free nitrogen" available in the plant tissues, making them more attractive to pests. However, these physiological changes may often not be sufficient to produce visible signs of stress in the plants. Thus, the ignorant shopper can come into a grocery store and choose beautiful fresh produce without realizing that, not only was it directly poisoned with pesticides, but also, the produce is essentially sick.
. . . overwhelming research has come out in the past year, which shows that the very most potent particulate matter consists of ultrafine particles contaminated by metals and/or by hydrocarbons from our ubiquitous cars and power plants, etc.
The hidden assault from pesticides
is also all around us in the air. Pesticides are not just sprayed on agricultural
fields; they are also sprayed in public buildings, including schools, and in
many people's homes. When we walk into a room, that has been sprayed, there
is no red mist warning us of the danger. In his NOHA lecture in Morton Grove
on February 4, 2004, Professor Warren Porter of the University of Wisconsin
in Madison explained to us the awful endocrine-disrupting effects of pesticides
at amazingly low levels. For a common herbicide mixture at the level of parts
per billion-equivalent to one drop in 500 bathtubs-they found the worst effect
on fetal resorption and drop in offspring in their animals. Years ago they had
found learning problems and changes in aggression in their animals from mixtures
of pesticides and fertilizers at levels in the Wisconsin ground water. Professor
Porter explained to us that the so-called "inert" ingredients in pesticides
(soaps and "surfactants") allow easy access of the "active ingredient."
The soap facilitates penetration through our oily skin and the surfactant into
the deep recesses of our lungs. Thus, the hidden assaults can come not only
from eating but also from breathing and through our skin.1
Particulate matter in the air
We all know of incidents of awful smog and polluted fog causing many deaths of vulnerable people. We can see large particles in the air and we know that there is danger. However, overwhelming research has come out in the past year, which shows that the very most potent particulate matter consists of ultrafine particles contaminated by metals and/or by hydrocarbons from our ubiquitous cars and power plants, etc. These most dangerous particles are much too small to be seen, so, they can be present in very large numbers on a day with clear blue sky. These ultra fine particles are able to penetrate and disrupt the mitochondria, which produce energy in our cells, thus killing them.2 The minute particles also produce oxidative stress, which certainly could be a contributing factor in asthma, heart disease, and even Alzheimer's.
1For the NOHA tape of this excellent lecture, which not only spells out the hidden assaults from pesticides, but also gives powerful ways to reduce exposure, order: Warren Porter, PhD, "Do Pesticides Affect Learning and Behavior?" #203, audio and video, February 2004.
2Li, N., et al., "Ultrafine Particulate Pollutants Induce Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Damage," Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(4): 455-60, April 2003.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXIX, No. 2, Spring 2004, pages 7-8.