In 2006, the University of Washington conducted a study on 23 children who were made to follow an organic diet. After a few days, all traces of pesticides had disappeared from their urine.
These traces quickly resurfaced at their original levels when they switched back to a traditional diet…
The damage is evident among farmers who are in direct contact with chemical pesticides sprayed to fields. On June 13 this year, INSERM (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) published the results of a collective expertise, which reviewed international scientific literature of the past 30 years on pesticides. The results of this analysis helped theorize the connection between certain diseases (various cancers, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal problems) and exposure to pesticides.
Farmers on the ground were however convinced of this long ago. Their plight was described in an evocatively titled documentary: “La mort est dans le pré” (Death is in the field). For years, many farmers used chemicals without protecting themselves. Two wine-growers, Yannick Chenet and Frédérick Ferrand, died from it. Their families sued Monsanto, an agribusiness giant whose products primarily include herbicides, and won their lawsuit.
Such a historical decision is encouraging. But is the agricultural world ready to change its methods?
When pesticide applications take place, great clouds of chemical smoke are formed. The people in rural areas, especially in vineyard regions are directly exposed. But who cares?
In Burgundy, for example, spraying takes place in July, when children on vacation like to play in the fields and wander around the countryside. Is it ethical for wine-growers to spray chemicals that have also killed some of their colleagues or made them ill?
As consumers, we are often told that washing fruits and vegetables is enough to remove traces of pesticides. Yes, it is definitely better. But when a chemical is applied, it falls on the very land that nourishes the plant. So logically it is present in the plant, the flower and the fruit it bears. You can wash the polluted fruit twenty times, but it won’t remove the pesticides in it, especially when the land in question has been receiving pesticides for 40 to 50 years!
From a scientific perspective, we don’t know how to currently measure the cumulative effect of pesticides.
In France, organic farming accounts for 5% of the total agriculture (in terms of farms). So organic lands are largely few in number and surrounded by non-organic terrain and the wind carrying pesticides does not stop at fences…