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 Cancer: Pesticides 
 
Charles Simone B. MD ©

There is a correlation between these cancers and a variety of pesticides and pesticide uses. This does not mean, however, that pesticides are the direct cause of these cancers.

In this age of organic farming, the debate over pesticide use rages on. Othal Brand, who was recently appointed to the Texas Pesticide Regulatory Board, said of the termite killer Chlordane, "Sure, it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of something else anyway." (42) Farmer Clarence Hopmann of Dumas, Arkansas, decreased the use of agricultural pesticides because he developed an allergy to them. However, in order to qualify for bank loans, the bankers demanded that he use large doses of pesticides on his crops. He has resumed using them. (43 )

There are several things that can and should be done to minimize the use of pesticides in our country and the world. Before the 1940s, pesticides were not used very much at all. Hence there have always been alternatives to the artificial chemical pesticides currently in use.

Nature provides us with biological controls, that is, natural predators that can be introduced to control insects. For example, ladybugs can be used to fight off aphid predators. Beetles were used to control weeds in the western United States in the 1950s, parasites to control the citrus fly in Barbados in the 1960s. You can also minimize the number of pests by providing food and habitat for the pest's natural enemies. Certain traditional farming practices may be employed as well. Crop residues may be removed by plowing or flooding. Pest deterrents, crop rotation, proper drainage methods, and physical controls like traps or blocking of insects and/or other pests can be used. These techniques, along with biological controls, have been used successfully by many countries, including China, Nicaragua, certain areas of England, and also some parts of America.

While chemical pesticides certainly benefit populations by increasing food production and decreasing certain diseases, it is important to use them only when they must be used and to use the pesticides that cause the least toxicity in human beings and the least damage to the environment around us. Treat them all as hazardous and minimize their use in public areas and in and around your home. For example, since the pesticide 2,4,5-T is very hazardous, substitute the less hazardous Amcide or Krenite. Silicon and soap can be used in gardens as a nontoxic insecticide rather than the other commonly used pesticides for the garden. Wasps have been controlled by parasites in greenhouses more effectively than with chemicals. And the bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis has also been shown to be a good alternative to several toxic insecticides.

WHAT CAN BE DONE
The number of tons of pesticides has increased thirty-three times since 1940, and their toxicity has grown tenfold. However, crop losses to microorganisms, insects, and weeds have gone up 31-37 percent. There are a number of reasons for this. As new pesticides are developed, insects develop resistance to them. But even more importantly, the government supports prices of various crops, which encourages farmers to produce only a single crop instead of rotating crops to inhibit the pests.

By using crop rotation and biological pest control, pesticide use could be cut in half. Food prices would rise by one percent-about $1 billion a year-but the benefits would be enormous. The United States would save $4-$10 billion per year from decreased damage to fish and water supplies, decreased costs of regulating pesticides, and decreased health-care costs for the 20,000 people poisoned each year from pesticides. (44)

(Excerpted from Cancer and Nutrition: A Ten Point Plan to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cancer ISBN: 0895294915)
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