Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pesticide link to ADHD

Perhaps we need to take a step back and assess our priorities as individuals and as a society. Don't know if anyone saw this in the news several months ago, but a Harvard and U of Montreal study found that children age 8-15 with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide residue in their urine had roughly double the chance of being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) compared to those without detectable levels. While the study did not address causation, it certainly is evidence that pesticides used on agricultural crops are making their way into our (kids') bodies.

I haven't heard anyone claim pesticides in the bloodstream do any good. On the contrary, they seem to be at the very least contributing to some harm. What concentration of pesticide, if any, is an acceptable risk? How can we, the consumers, prevent pesticides from entering our bodies? Go organic, for starters.

Organic methods of farming enhance soil fertility and crop growth without the use of fossil fuel-based chemical N:P:K fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Natural weed and bug-fighting methods are used so as not to harm the ecosystem of the farm. After all, soil is a living thing with mycorrhizal fungi interacting with plant roots and bacteria to cycle "organic" or life-produced nutrients through the soil into the plants and animals that eat the plants. Crop rotation is essential to prevent the buildup of harmful plant pathogens and stripping of vital nutrients.

Critics of organic farming say it produces lower yields and if all farms suddenly went organic there would not be enough food to feed a growing population. Nonsense, I say. Numerous long-term field studies have been conducted which show organic yields are as good or better than conventional chemical farming on neighboring control plots. In fact, organic plots often have lower rates of disease and infestation, perform better in droughts, do not leach many harmful nitrates into the groundwater or erode topsoil, and tend to be more profitable per acre.

Should we let the evidence be our guide?

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor