PRB Articles


Pesticide Rebuttal

Second in a continuing series

No, pesticides are not saving the Earth. Instead, they are poisoning us.

Editor’s Note: When the July issue started hitting mailboxes all over this country, my In Box began filling with opinions, ideas and criticisms of our coverage of the IPM and pesticide issue. One of the more passionate responses was from Dr. Karen I. Shragg, Director of the Wood Lake Nature Center for the City of Richfield, Minnesota.

Dr. Shragg took particular exception to an article written by Dr. Patrick Moore, an original founder of GreenPeace. (You can read a copy of her letter and my ensuing response on page XX).

Intrigued, I asked Dr. Shragg to write a rebuttal to Dr. Moore’s article so you and I could get a better understanding of both sides of the issue. Her response, printed below, is again full of passion – calling for a ban of all pesticides (or poisons as she calls them), and pushing for a return to organic production (food, clothes, etc.). Here’s her response…

When I read the article “How Pesticides are Saving the Earth” by Dr. Patrick Moore on page 16 of the July 2006 issue of Park & Rec Business magazine, I nearly fell out of my chair. As a person who has actively worked in the organic movement for over 15 years, I couldn’t believe someone could make this accusation.

Then, I looked further.

Dr. Patrick Moore -- Background

The credibility of the author was given as someone who helped to start the environmental group, GreenPeace. A little research revealed that Dr. Moore did, in fact, help found GreenPeace, but left the organization decades ago, to start Greenspirit Strategies, Ltd. (www.greenspiritstrategies.com), a more philosophically comfortable home in the arms of industry. In fact, just this year he has partnered with Christine Todd Whitman, New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator in the new, industry-funded initiative called TheClean and Safe Energy Initiative, which supports increased use of nuclear energy.

That makes perfect sense.

Anyone who can argue that nuclear power is clean, exchanging air pollution for radioactive waste, is quite capable of justifying the poisoning of our planet in exchange for growing more food (see Going Nuclear, Dr. Patrick Moore, www.washingtonpost.com).

Dr. Moore also has also found ways to justify genetically modifying our food supply. Apparently, he is interested in short-term gains with long-term negative consequences.

Saying pesticides are saving the earth because they have increased our food supply and supply people with much needed antioxidants from eating non-diseased fruits and vegetables is a half-truth, which ignores the long term fall-out from this type of so-called success.

Pesticides Are Poisons

The evidence is so clear. We are poisoning ourselves and other species with our pesticide habits. Twelve chemical pesticides, (which are more truthfully referred to as poisons), are on the initial phase-out list in a current treaty discussion. Here are nine of the worst: aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene and DDT.

These persistent chemicals can be found in the tissues of people all over the world, contributing to a global disaster of disease, particularly cancer. I invite the author of this article to have his own blood tested for these chemicals to see if he feels at all comfortable with these poisons floating around in his bloodstream.

This, of course, begs the question. Where did these poisons come from?

Many of them were invented for potential biochemical warfare in World War II. Leftover supplies were, instead, used on our food supply. The toxins, which disable the nervous systems of insects, have, admittedly, worked to greatly increase our food supply, but at the same time they have dramatically increased the poisons in our water, soil and bodies.

Remember, these poisons are non-specific. That means, along with the “bad” bugs, they also kill those that would naturally predate crop-eating insects. Eliminating the “good” along with the “bad” disrupts the food chain and ends up decreasing bird and amphibian populations.

It can even be argued that increasing food supplies simply encourages increased human population, which, in turn, means we need even more food (and other resources), creating an endless and, ultimately, unsustainable cycle which will ultimately destroy the Earth’s resources.

Possible Solutions

So, what are some possible solutions to this travesty? The Pesticide Action Network (www.panna.org) offers several ideas. Their 20 Ways to Fight Pesticides (you can visit their web site to download a poster for your office wall if you so desire) recommends the following:

1. Eat organic foods and support local organic farmers

2. Push local grocery stores for more organic choices

3. Buy organic fibers

4. Avoid high-residue foods

5. Reject anti-bacterial products

6. Keep a pesticide-free home and office

7. Arm yourself with facts

8. Get involved in your local community

9. Contact your representative

Our goal should be to get to a point where chemical companies have to prove the long-term safety of their products before they go on the market. After all, we’re all stockholders in this living, breathing planet. We need to recognize it hangs onto these poisons for a very long time, sending them up the food chain and into our systems so that we may suffer the consequences at some later date.

Why not put a stop to it once and for all?

Dr Karen I. Shragg has her doctorate in Critical Pedagogy, has been an environmental advocate for decades and is Director of the Wood Lake Nature Center for the City of Richfield, Minn. She can be reached via e-mail at KShragg@cityofrichfield.org

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