Data on the occurrence of pesticide related-illnesses, among defined populations in different countries, are scanty. Efforts are required to include an investigation of exposure to pesticides.
Information can also be compiled by monitoring the end product, in the form of residual levels and that can be traced through blood samples in humans.
As a study, it is seldom carried out but is quite possible in any farming sector. Pesticides have been used for decades and its levels of hazards on humans has emphasised a pragmatic use of such chemicals. Policies governing the use of pesticides should be based on scientific judgment and not on commercial considerations. Pesticides come at a significant cost and have also contaminated every corner of the environment that encompasses the air, water, soil, mico-organisms, fish, birds and wild life. The crux of the matter involving the use of pesticides is to minimise human exposure to the chemicals.
In a momentous breakthrough, a group of college students, in the US, have analysed pesticide residues on crops, and identified the amount a few hours after application. Before reading about this significant research one must also be informed of how pesticides came into our world, only to endanger every life form on the planet.
Today soils have, to an extent, been poisoned by synthetic chemicals and both quality of food and health have suffered. “Human health depends on wholesome food, and this can come from fertile productive soils. If soil is deficient in minerals then the quality of food will be equally deficient,” said Alexis Carrel (1873-1944), a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques. He continued by elaborating that chemical fertilisers are unable to restore soil fertility — they do not work on the soil but are instead absorbed by plants, which are in turn poisoned. A plant’s link to the soil will logically poison the soil as well. Only organic humus is a lifelong ingredient in soil, not synthetic fertiliser.
Carrel explained that chemical inputs in the soil have responded by producing an abundance of crops but they have failed to replace all the elements, thus depleting fertility. The nutritive value of cereals we eat, for example, will thus decline. He had predicted that the more civilization progresses the further it gets from a natural diet.
Joseph D Weissman, professor at the ULCA College of Medicine and a specialist in preventive medicine, has discovered that almost all the non-infectious diseases that presently plague mankind are of recent origin, during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The invidious paradox is that billions of dollars spent on research on diagnostic techniques, organ transplants, coronary bypass procedures, and chemotherapy for treating malignancies have not altered the advance of these dangerous ailments but have instead enriched the chemist and medical practitioner. Weissman reiterates that today’s killer diseases are caused by environmental toxins produced by our industrial society.
Most doctors agree that the increase in diseases such as cancer and heart ailments, are primarily due to the extensive use of synthetic chemicals and their residual traces in our daily diet, including food preservatives.
Interestingly, the poisoning of soil with artificial additives began in the middle of the last century, as was deduced by a German chemist called Justus von Liebig. He introduced to the world the importance of the NPK mixture that nourished plants. Liebig concluded that humus and organic matter of decaying plants fertilised the soil and not chemicals. William Shestone wrote in 1875 that this theory came into the world “10 years too late,” by which time chemical companies had got off to a very profitable start.
To identify traces of chemical residues within crops, which have just been sprayed, will soon be possible because of the intelligence of two undergraduate students from the University of Virginia, US. Ameer Shakeel and Payam Pourtaheri have created a revolutionary product called AgroSpheres, with a goal of eliminating the damaging side-effects of pesticides across the world. The duo was presented with a gold medal each, and in addition they received US $10,000 with US $2,000 for their adviser. Radia Pearlman, a computer scientist and judge in the competition, said, “Getting rid of pesticides involves deep science.”
According to the EPA’s study, the global use of pesticides was 5.2 billion pounds in 2006 and 2007. This new product, AgroSpheres, has been tested in a laboratory, and now trials are being conducted in vineyards and greenhouses to gauge efficacy and to judge how long it takes the identified enzymes to degrade. US regulatory agencies like the EPA, USDA and FDA intend to expedite the process for industrial scale application. Agro-Spheres is now an Intellectual Property belonging to Pourtaheri and Shakeel.
Their efforts will, in due course, ensure that our food intake becomes free from the presence of pernicious chemicals.