A recent study showed a link between pesticide use and depression in men exposed to chemicals on farms. An earlier study was also conducted looking at the effects of pesticides in women, which found links to depression too. And there have been others producing similar results.
But there is an even more fundamental question that requires no research, one the chemical companies should address in earnest. And that is, if you create chemicals to kill, (I don’t care what they are killing – bugs, weeds, bees, whatever) they are made to exterminate life. The question then becomes, in what quantity are they dangerous and for whom? You can’t have it both ways. They can’t be poisonous only sometimes on some forms of life.
I agree that levels swing the argument one way or another. A trace amount is much different than a large dose. But, to layer on one small dose after another is to create a large dose. That point seems to be lost on the regulators. Even though the general population will never receive the same amount of pesticides that farmers like those in the studies did, doses will continue to get larger, stronger and more ubiquitous if the EPA and USDA keep upping the ante on acceptable levels. And this is where the sustainability argument comes in. Nature at some point will collapse under the burden of manmade interference.
The body has its own cleansing, purging and detoxifying system, and depending on its strength and efficiency, will push out the toxins that threaten it. But only for as long as it can. The system will eventually succumb to the pressure, particularly if government fails to regulate these chemicals, as it is proving to be the case.
So while I would concede that determining the sum total (and effect) of exposure in a causal, corollary way would be impossible considering we breathe, eat, wear, absorb, apply and touch thousands upon thousands of chemicals every day, at the same time, there is no responsible nor reasonable way to claim safety.
Meanwhile, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System is banning the use of agricultural pesticides that a growing number of scientific studies have shown are harmful to bees, birds, mammals, and fish, and it will prohibit the use of genetically modified seeds to grow crops that feed wildlife. Why those same considerations are not extended to human beings is a mystery.
But it’s not just our health we need to worry about. It’s our happiness. As summarized by Marcia Angell in The New York Review of Books, depression more than doubled from 1987 to 2007 in adults and increased by 35 times in children over the same period. That’s not good.
When one feels depressed, how often do doctors suggest first he or she try a diet that is mainly pesticide free? Not very, and this is when there is research to support the possibility that chemicals are contributing to our mental/emotional well being. What happens instead? A prescription. More chemicals.
If we care about our health and the health of our loved ones, something has to give. People are suffering and the answer is not more of the same.