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Another Class of Pesticides Is Destroying Brains

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While there are many sources of exposure to toxic chemicals, the use of organophosphates (OPs) is making news once again for the damage it causes to children’s brains.

A group of environmental and public health researchers from the U.S. and Canada suggest prenatal exposure to OPs is putting children at risk for behavioral and cognitive deficits, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders. For this reason, they are calling for a global phaseout of these toxic chemicals, among other measures.

OP Pesticides Flagged as Significant Risk to Children and Pregnant Women

Authors of a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine1 suggest OPs pose significant health risks to children, including attention and memory deficits, autism and reduced IQ.

Based on a meta-analysis of data and literature on OPs contained in a United Nations (U.N.) database2 housing information reported by 71 countries, the team asserts these chemicals are such a significant threat to the health of children and pregnant women they should be banned.

With respect to the findings, lead author, professor Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Ph.D., environmental epidemiologist and director of the Environmental Health Sciences Core Center at the University of California, Davis, called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to action, saying:3

“We have compelling evidence from dozens of human studies that exposures of pregnant women to very low levels of organophosphate pesticides put children and fetuses at risk for developmental problems that may last a lifetime. By law, the EPA cannot ignore such clear findings: It’s time for a ban not just on chlorpyrifos, but all organophosphate pesticides.”

Picciotto and her team noted:4

  • OP compounds were originally developed in the 1930s and 1940s for use as human nerve gas agents; some were later adapted at lower doses for use as insecticides5
  • People are routinely exposed to OP pesticides due to their wide use in agriculture, on golf courses and in homes, parks, rights of way, schools and countless public spaces
  • More than 40 OP pesticides, including those most commonly used, are now considered by the EPA, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to be moderately or highly hazardous to human health6
  • In the U.S., a number of OP pesticides, including azinphos-methyl, chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos and malathion, were licensed for insecticidal use prior to the establishment of regulations requiring them to be evaluated for ecologic and human health impacts7
  • To date, U.S. regulators have already banned 26 out of 40 OP pesticides considered to be human health hazards, whereas the European Union has banned 33 of 398

Pesticide Bans Vary by Country and Are Not Well Enforced

The researchers were quick to note pesticide regulations vary widely around the world and are not always well enforced. Even when a certain toxic pesticide is banned in one country, it can still be exported elsewhere.

Very often these products end up in developing countries. Regions like Central America, where agricultural chemicals are less regulated, have been impacted.9 In addition, earlier this year, I discussed how agrochemicals have increased birth defects and deformities in Argentinian children.

Authors of a 2001 study published in the journal Toxicology10 observed developing countries with warmer climates, where the growing season allows for the cultivation of two or three crops a year — much of which is exported to regions with colder climates and shorter growing seasons — are increasingly impacted by toxic agricultural chemicals. The researchers stated:11

“Many older, [nonpatentable], more toxic, environmentally persistent and inexpensive chemicals are used extensively in developing nations, creating serious acute health problems and local and global environmental contamination.

Few developing nations have a clearly expressed ‘philosophy’ concerning pesticides. There is a lack of rigorous legislation and regulations to control pesticides, as well as training programs for personnel to inspect and monitor use.”

According to the current study, at least a dozen OP pesticides classified by the WHO/FAO as highly hazardous are still being used in Mexico.12 Based on the large amount of produce imported to the U.S. from that country, such news is of particular concern to Americans. This is just one more reason to avoid conventional produce and buy organic fruits and vegetables as often as possible.

The Dangers of Chlorpyrifos, One of the Most Commonly Used Pesticides

Although you may not have heard of chlorpyrifos, scientists at Harvard University assert it’s very likely to be found inside your body based on the fact it is the most widely-used pesticide on American farms.13 Having been invented as an alternative to the caustic dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) — which was itself a replacement for toxic lead arsenate — chlorpyrifos is said to be the latest in a group of “regrettable substitutions.”14 Beyond this, chlorpyrifos:15

  • Was banned from household use by the EPA in 2000
  • Continues to be sprayed on agricultural crops and is routinely applied to golf courses and public spaces
  • Kills insect pests by attacking their nervous system; its impact on humans is somewhat similar
  • When sprayed on food crops, the farmworkers applying chlorpyrifos may experience confusion, dizziness and nausea

Sharing more facts about chlorpyrifos, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) states:16

“Use of chlorpyrifos is heaviest in [U.S.] areas dominated by agriculture, including California, the Northwest and the Midwest. It is applied on grapes; on tree fruits such as apples, nectarines, peaches, citrus and almonds; and on corn, wheat and soybeans.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which tests produce for pesticide residues each year, estimate that almost half of conventionally grown apples are sprayed with the pesticide. Americans are also exposed to chlorpyrifos residues on imported produce.”

Corporate Profits and Industry Interests Prioritized Over Human Health

In the U.S., the battle over how to handle toxic pesticides continues to be waged, pitting corporate profits and the interest of industry trade groups against human health. August 2018, a U.S. federal appeals court mandated the EPA ban the use of chlorpyrifos with respect to its remaining applications.17

The judgment, which is currently under appeal, countered the EPA’s 2017 reversal of the Obama administration’s efforts to eliminate the poison two years earlier. The EWG suggests political ties between U.S. President Donald Trump and Dow Chemical Company, manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, initially stalled the action to more comprehensively ban the pesticide.18

According to EWG, Dow contributed $1 million to President Trump’s inaugural ball in 2017. Alleged conversations in early 2017 between former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who was forced to resign in July 2018 due to ethical scandals, and Dow’s CEO are believed to have resulted in Pruitt reversing the agency’s proposal to ban chlorpyrifos from use on food crops.19

As such, Pruitt ignored the recommendation of EPA scientists, who, in November 2016, had revised both their human health risk and drinking water exposure assessments for chlorpyrifos, highlighting the potential health risks of exposure to chlorpyrifos residues in food and drinking water.

About the planned revision, the EPA states, “Currently, chlorpyrifos remains registered as it undergoes registration review. As part of the ongoing registration review, we will continue to review the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects and complete our assessment by October 1, 2022.”20

With respect to corporate interests, the Union of Concerned Scientists states, “The power that companies like Dow Chemical wield in government can give them special access to administration officials, which in turn can allow them to unduly influence federal policies in ways that serve corporate interests rather than the public interest.”21

Proposed Rollback on Pesticide Application Age Limits Also Puts Children at Risk

The Global Justice Ecology Project22 says the Trump administration also intends to roll back the age limits on restricted-use pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, to allow workers as young as 16 years old to spray the toxic chemicals.23 This recommendation was first announced by Pruitt last year and is set to take effect in September 2019.

Previously, the Obama administration had established the minimum age rules to protect minors working on farms, many of whom are teenage (or younger) migrant workers speaking little, if any, English. Given the language barrier, it can be challenging for them to understand directions on how to apply pesticides safely.

EWG President Ken Cook did not mince words when commenting on the Trump administration’s plans to allow kids as young as 16 to handle health-damaging pesticides. In addition to calling the administration’s actions a “war on children’s health,”24 Cook said:25

“There are other farm jobs they could do that don’t involve strapping containers of dangerous chemicals on their backs that they will inhale and ingest. But this administration will let unscrupulous farm bosses risk these kids’ health. Maybe the President should pick up a spray nozzle for a day and see what it’s like walking through a plume of pesticide fumes.”

Beyond this, the EWG suggests a decision by acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler in September 2018 to place the EPA’s top children’s health official, Dr. Ruth Etzel, on administrative leave may be the first step toward eliminating a team assigned to “reduce negative environmental impacts on children” through involvement in EPA activities such as policy enforcement, research and rulemaking.26

Etzel, a pediatrician and specialist in preventive medicine and public health, who has been a leader in children’s environmental health for 30 years, was assigned as director of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection in 2015.

The removal of Etzel may be “the opening gambit in a plan by this administration to dismantle [the] EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection,” says Dr. Philip Landrigan, one of the world’s leading authorities on children’s health and founding director of Boston College’s global public health initiative.27

Pesticide Impacts on Children’s Brains and How to Prevent Harm

While you may think adults and children are equally susceptible to the toxic side effects of pesticides like chlorpyrifos, EarthJustice, creator of the video shown above, notes, “Children often experience greater exposure to chlorpyrifos and other pesticides because they frequently put their hands in their mouths and, relative to adults, they eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water and juice for their weight.”28

Robin Whyatt, deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University in New York and coauthor of the October 2018 research, told the Guardian the impact of OPs on children’s brains, while relatively low in terms of actual IQ points on a child by child basis, could result in long-term, negative societal shifts. She said:29

“The problem is that when you have an exposure as ubiquitous as [OPs], you get distributional shifts in IQ, with fewer people in the brilliant range and more in the lower ranges of IQ. That can have a very substantial economic impact on societies in terms of the ruined potential of children’s abilities.”

According to Whyatt, a good deal of the neurological damage linked to OP use impacts working memory, which, she notes, relates to your brain’s ability to retain and recall short-term thoughts. As such, a child’s brain that has been damaged by OPs may be able to retain only a portion of an instruction such as “open your science textbooks to page 37 and began [sic] exercise number four,” she said.30

Another study coauthor, Bruce Lanphear, professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, stated:31

“We found no evidence of a safe level of organophosphate pesticide exposure for children. Well before birth, organophosphate pesticides are disrupting the brain in its earliest stages, putting them on track for difficulties in learning, memory and attention — effects which may not appear until they reach school-age. Government officials around the world need to listen to science, not chemical lobbyists.”

Recommendations to Protect Children From Pesticides

The group of study authors offered a number of specific recommendations to help protect children, including the call to phase out chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides worldwide. With respect to their other suggestions, most of which will need to be addressed by government leaders and other policy influencers, the researchers invited global entities to:32







Encourage the use of integrated pest management (IPM) through incentives as well as training in agroecology

Ensure worker safety through proper training and the use of protective equipment

Implement mandatory surveillance of pesticide-related illness

Increase education on the hazards of OPs in medical and nursing schools, as well as continuing education courses targeting health care professionals

Monitor watersheds and other sources of human exposures to OPs

Promote the development of nontoxic approaches to pest control through IPM

While the battle around OPs and other toxic pesticides is waged, you can safeguard your health and the health of your children at the most basic level by purchasing organic, pesticide-free foods as often as possible. For more tips, check out my article “Which Fruits and Vegetables Have the Most Pesticides?” or refer to the EWG’s “2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”33

An even safer choice is to grow your own food. Because pesticide residues can transfer from peels to your hands, be sure to wash foods well before eating, even if you plan on peeling it afterward.

As a final thought, remember change comes from people, not governments or other high-level entities. Whether you realize it or not, you vote with your wallet. Every purchase you make influences the change you want to see. About this, André Leu, organic farmer, director of Regeneration International and author of “Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides,” in an interview about the myths of safe pesticides, said:

“You have to make this change yourself. It’s simple to make. If enough of us are making this change, we’ll actually change agriculture because the retailers and farmers will be forced to change production to meet the market.

Buying organic food, buying local food, going to Community-Supported Agriculture (CSAs), is actually a very powerful political and change act. Your dollars will do more to change the system than probably anything else.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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