Hidden DANGER: What pesticides and herbicides are really in your food
(NaturalHealth365) What are pesticides? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pesticides are defined as any chemical substance used to regulate, prevent or destroy plants or pests – usually insects, rodents or microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria – or that acts as a nitrogen stabilizer in soil. Over one billion pounds of conventional pesticides are used annually in the U.S.
It’s a staggering number that begs the question: How toxic is the American agricultural system?
In recent years, glyphosate (a highly toxic herbicide ingredient) has been linked to the disruption of endocrine function as well as certain cancers, asthma, and childhood leukemia. In fact, in a landmark case in 2018, Monsanato was found liable for causing a school groundskeeper’s cancer through exposure to its weedkiller, Roundup.
But glyphosate isn’t the only dangerous substance used in modern agriculture. Recent research published by Cell Host & Microbe suggests that atrazine, an herbicide banned in the European Union since the 1980s but widely used in the U.S., also contains hidden dangers.
Atrazine is a serious threat to all forms of life
Atrazine, the second-most widely used herbicide in the U.S., is a chlorine-based chemical that can persist in the soil for 22 years. It’s manufactured by the agrochemical giant Syngenta.
This herbicide is popular in the Midwest and used primarily on corn, sugarcane and sorghum to fight weeds and supposedly increase yields. Seventy to 80 million pounds of atrazine are sprayed on corn each year, creating atrazine contamination spikes in the Midwest in the spring and summer.
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What are the dangers?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), atrazine’s effects exceeded its “levels of concern” for chronic risk by 198 times for mammals and 62 times for fish. Research has found that it harms the hormones in male frogs, and additional studies indicate that it changes gut microbes in wasps and honeybees and increases the risk of premature death.
How do we get exposed to these toxic chemicals?
A report conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that tap water in some areas of the corn belt contained 14 times the amount of atrazine the EPA legally allows.
High levels of atrazine have been linked to birth defects such as oral clefts, limb deficiencies, and neural tube defects. But atrazine isn’t just a problem in the tap water in the Midwest.
In 2015, atrazine was detected at levels exceeding health-protective guidelines in more than 800 systems in 19 states. In addition, the CDC reports that long-term exposure to atrazine can result in the following health effects:
- weight loss
- cardiovascular damage
- retinal and some muscle degeneration
The bottom line: Pesticides and herbicides are toxic to the environment, and moving towards a more regenerative agriculture is imperative to keep humans and animals safe.
Are dangerous chemicals lurking in your food? The answer is yes … if you’re not purifying your drinking (and cooking) water. And, at the very least, eating organic food, as much as possible.
Be sure to only buy food from trusted sources. Make it a point to visit your local farmer and connect with like-minded people at your local farmers market. Never underestimate the importance of eating clean food and drinking pure (chemical free) water to protect your health.
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