Comprehensive scientific review concluded: All pesticides pose serious health risks to humans–especially children
Sat, 8 May 2004
The Ontario College of Family Physicians (“the voice of family medicine in Ontario”) conducted an exhaustive review of the medical/scientific pesticide literature from around the world (1990–2003) on the health effects of commonly used pesticides. They evaluated over 12,000 papers for review, selecting only 250 that met their rigorous scientific criteria for close analysis.
The body of evidence is consistent and overwhelming, leading the authors to conclude that common pesticides are definitively linked to serious illness such as: reproductive problems, fetal defects, neurological damage and the most deadly cancers. The study also shows that children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides. The evidence led the authors to advise the public to avoid ALL pesticides.
The Globe and Mail reports that Quebec has already banned the most common lawn and garden pesticides across the province starting next year. The Canadian Cancer Society, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, the Registered Nurses Association of Canada and the Ontario Public Health Association have called for the bans as well.
In stark contrast, the US Environmental Protection Agency has failed to conduct a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the evidence, relying instead on industry produced findings, and a cursory examination by an advisory panel.
Animals and humans are adversely affected by pesticides. To avoid epidemiological studies that would document those adverse effects, the chemical / pharmaceutical industry giants sought to use pesticide “challenge” trials in humans to show that pesticides are “safe” for human ingestion. The purpose of this unconscionable industry ploy is to lower EPA’s pesticide standards. The lobbying was led by BAYER CropScience–a division of BAYER AG, the company that (under the name, IG Farben) helped convert a PESTICIDE (Zyklon B) into a weapon of GENOCIDE.
Bayer may be the only large company to maintain control of chemicals, polymers, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture divisions all within one company.
In 2003, the EPA caved in to industry pressure and removed the long-standing barriers to human pesticide experiments. It did so in violation of both, the Do No Harm principle of medicine, and the 1947 Nuremberg Code prohibiting the experimental use of poisonous substances in human beings. The Nuremberg Code is contained in the verdict against the Nazi Doctors whose human experiments debased medicine and were declared crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg Code sets the universal standard for medical research ethics.
On July 29, 1948, twelve Bayer (IG Farben) executives were sentenced at Nuremberg. See: http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/Campaigns/Never_again_/never_again_.html
The Globe and Mail reports that Lorne Hepworth, president of BAYER’s subsidiary, CropLife Canada, “a trade association representing the large multinational pesticide producers,” who defended the safety of pesticides and the current regulatory system governing pesticides, “questioned whether the college, a voluntary, not-for-profit association, really had the public’s interest at heart in releasing the data.”
The EPA decision to lend legitimacy to human pesticide experiments was backed by an advisory committee convened by the National Academies of Science. Co-Chairs: James Childress, Ph.D. (IOM) Endowed Professor of Ethics and Medical Education, University of Virginia and Michael Taylor, JD, Director, Resources for the Future.
NAS committee Members: James Bruckner, Ph.D; Alicia Carriquiry, Ph.D; John Doull, MD; Henry T. Greely, JD; Sioban D Harlow PhD; Lester Lave, Ph.D (IOM); Bernard Lo, MD (IOM; Thomas A Louis Ph.D; Joseph V Rodricks PhD; Christopher H Schroeder JD; and Robert Temple MD, Director of the Office of Medical Polidy, FDA and Acting Director, Office of Drug Evaluation I. (Dr. Temple is currently criticized for FDA’s failure to warn physicians about the safety hazards of antidepressant drugs for children). David Korn MD, (IOM), Senior V-P Assoc of Am Medical Colleges, was listed as Liason to the Committee.
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
The Index of the study with links: http://www.ocfp.on.ca/English/OCFP/Communications/CurrentIssues/Pesticides/default.asp?s=1
Comprehensive Review of Pesticide Research Confirms Dangers
Family doctors highlight link between pesticide exposure and serious illnesses and disease; children particularly vulnerable.
Toronto, ON –
April 23, 2004 – The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) is strongly recommending that people reduce their exposure to pesticides wherever possible after releasing a comprehensive review of research on the effects of pesticides on human health. Released today, the review shows consistent links to serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases, among others. The study also shows that children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides.
The review found consistent evidence of the health risks to patients with exposure to pesticides. “Many of the health problems linked with pesticide use are serious and difficult to treat – so we are advocating reducing exposure to pesticides and prevention of harm as the best approach”, said Dr. Margaret Sanborn of McMaster University, one of the review’s authors.
Principle Findings of the Review: . Many studies reviewed by the Ontario College show positive associations between solid tumours and pesticide exposure, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer, among others. . Previous studies have pointed to certain pesticides, such as 2,4-D and related pesticides, as possible precipitants of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), and the findings of the College’s review are clearly consistent with this.
. It is clear from the review that an association exists between pesticide exposure and leukemia. According to the College, the implication of pesticides in the development of leukemia warrants further investigation and also, political action.
. The review team uncovered a remarkable consistency of findings of nervous system effects of pesticide exposures.
. Occupational exposure to agricultural chemicals may be associated with adverse reproductive effects including: birth defects, fetal death and intrauterine growth retardation.
Pesticide Effects and Children: Children are constantly exposed to low levels of pesticides in their food and environment, yet there have been few studies on the long-term effects of these exposures. Nevertheless, the College reviewed several studies that found associations between pesticide exposures and cancer in children. Key findings include:
. An elevated risk of kidney cancer was associated with paternal pesticide exposure through agriculture, and four studies found associations with brain cancer.
. Several studies in the review implicate pesticides as a cause of hematologic tumours in children, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia.
. Some children have overall increased risk of acute leukemia if exposed to pesticides in utero or during childhood, especially for exposure to insecticides and herbicides used on lawns, fruit trees and gardens, and for indoor control of insects.
What the Public Should Do: Given the wide range of commonly used home and garden products associated with health effects, the College’s overall message to patients is to avoid exposure to all pesticides whenever and wherever possible. This includes reducing both occupational exposures, as well as lower level exposures that occur from the use of pesticides in homes, gardens and public green space. The College also advocates exposure reduction techniques such as:
. Researching and implementing alternative organic methods of lawn and garden care and indoor pest control.
. Proper use of personal protection equipment, including respirators for home and occupational exposures.
. Education on safe handling, mixing, storage and application when pesticide use is considered necessary.
What Family Physicians Should Do: In the wake of this systemic review, the College is advocating that family physicians take the following measures:
. Screen patients for pesticides exposure at a level that may cause significant health problems, and intervene if necessary.
. Take patient pesticide exposure history when non-specific symptoms are present – such as fatigue, dizziness, low energy, rashes, weaknesses, sleep problems, anxiety, depression.
. Focus efforts on prevention rather than on researching the causes of chronic or terminal disease.
. Consider high-risk groups (e.g. children, pregnant women, seniors) in their practices.
. Advocate reduction or pesticide risk/use to individual patients.
. Advocate reduction of pesticide risk/use in the community, schools, hospitals and to governments.
The OCFP Study is available on the Ontario College’s website at www.ocfp.on.ca
For more information contact: Josh Cobden or Jennifer Casey Jan Kasperski Environics Communications Ontario College of Family Physicians 416-920-9000 416-867-9646
Globe and Mail
Pesticides too harmful to use in any form, doctors warn
By ALANNA MITCHELL
Saturday, April 24, 2004 – Page A1
The link between common household pesticides and fetal defects, neurological damage and the most deadly cancers is strong enough that family doctors in Ontario are urging citizens to avoid the chemicals in any form.
The frightening message came yesterday when the Ontario College of Family Physicians released the most comprehensive study ever done in Canada on the chronic effects of pesticide exposure at home, in the garden and at work.
“The review found consistent evidence of the health risks to patients with exposure to pesticides,” the study said, naming brain cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and leukemia among many other acute illnesses.
As well, the college found consistent links between parents’ exposure to certain agricultural pesticides at their jobs and effects on a growing fetus > ranging from damage to death. The risks, they concluded, can come even from residue on food, ant spray and the tick collar on the family cat.
The researchers also found that children are far more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides than adults because their bodies are growing, they have a greater skin surface in proportion to their size than adults, they ingest more food for their size than adults and they often have less-developed systems to excrete chemicals.
Not only that, but after examining 12,000 studies conducted from 1990 to 2003 around the world, and winnowing that down to the most sound 250, the researchers said there is no evidence that some pesticides are less dangerous than others, just that they have different effects on health that take different periods to show up.
They said they are preparing brochures for patients and education material for family doctors to fill them in on the findings.
However, Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada, a trade association representing the large multinational companies that manufacture pesticides, said he questioned whether the college, a voluntary, not-for-profit association, really had the public’s interest at heart in releasing the data: “Pesticides used properly constitute no unacceptable risk to people’s health or to the environment.”
He added that pesticides are highly regulated in Canada by federal health staff and must go through a raft of tests, including some on animals to see if the products cause cancer, before they are approved for use.
Not only that, but the federal laws governing pesticides were tightened two years ago to make them protect children better and match more closely the tougher standards in the United States and in other countries, he said.
He pointed out that other studies have shown that pesticide use also provides a safe and abundant source of fruits and vegetables in Canada, and that consuming these can cut cancer risks.
Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, an Arm of Health Canada, added that a pesticide cannot be registered for use in Canada if it has the potential to cause birth defects. “As long as they are used according to the label directions, they can be used safely,” he said.
The massive scientific literature review comes as many cities across Canada are trying to ban the use of pesticides to make gardens and lawns pest-free and as efforts increase to get rid of mosquito larvae before West Nile season.
Toronto’s law came into effect this month complete with posters showing a dandelion and the caption: “Relax. It’s just a weed.” Quebec has already banned the most common lawn and garden pesticides across the province starting next year.
The Canadian Cancer Society, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, the Registered Nurses Association of Canada and the Ontario Public Health Association have called for the bans as well.
Cathy Vakil, of the Family Medicine Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston and one of the authors of the report, noted that alternatives to pesticides are available in most cases and should be considered because the negative effects of some chemicals can be passed down through generations.
“People need to think long and hard if they want to take that risk for themselves, their children and their grandchildren for the sake of a golf-green lawn,” she said.
She also noted that the pesticides used in Toronto’s 200,000 storm sewers to kill mosquito larvae emit a product as they break down that is a retinoid, a family of chemicals known to cause limb deformities in fetuses.
That chemical then washes into Lake Ontario and in turn into the drinking water of the Greater Toronto Area. However, Lorraine Van Haastrecht, spokeswoman for a lobby group representing companies that treat 100,000 lawns in Toronto, said Canada needs “healthy green spaces.”
And Gavin Dawson, technical manager of Greenspace Services, the largest company in Canada to treat lawns, said that while his company offers pesticide-free service, only about 10 per cent of customers want that. The rest want pesticides.
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