PAN North Amercia
Thu, 2011-06-02 16:17
In my last post, I asked “Where’s the data?” — specifically the latest installment from the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, which tests thousands of food samples for pesticide residues every year. The PDP data is the basis for our WhatsOnMyFood.org website that allows you to see which pesticides are found on food (and in water), how often, in what amounts, and with what associated health risks.
After months of delay, the data is finally out. In a nod to the produce industry (who had complained about “misuse” of the data by “activist groups”) the USDA included a two page “What Consumers Should Know” factsheet with the report, but otherwise the presentation of results and data is the same as it’s always been. And then there’s cilantro.
This was first time cilantro was included in PDP testing, and as reported by the Chicago Tribune, more than 30 unapproved pesticides were found, with 44% of samples contaminated with at least one illegal pesticide. In addition, one sample had levels of chlorpyrifos in excess of permissible amounts. Chlorpyrifos and many of the unapproved pesticides are organophosphate insecticides; research links prenatal exposure to these chemicals with cognitive disorders in children.
According to the Tribune, government officials “caution that unapproved pesticides on cilantro may not always represent a health threat.” Maybe it’s just me, but that’s not very reassuring. Drunk driving may not always result in a car accident, but checkpoints are still a good idea.
And it’s not just consumers’ health we should be worried about. Whether a particular pesticide is approved for a particular crop typically has more to do with protecting the health of farmers and farmworkers applying the pesticide and/or the health of the environment than with the health of consumers eating the end product which may bear residues of the pesticide. For example, when EPA announced it was phasing out endosulfan last year, the Agency stressed it was taking the action because of “significant risks to wildlife and agricultural workers.”
Fri Jun 3, 2011 6:47 am (PDT)
New York State Department of Health Cancer Webpage Deceptions- Donald L. Hassig, June 3, 2011
The New York State Department of Health provides information on cancer
causation to the general public on its Cancer Webpage. This
information would lead the non-expert reader to conclude that
approximately 60 percent of cancer deaths are caused by exposure to
cigarette smoke, obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet. Not a
single pollutant carcinogen is named on the Cancer Webpage. The
non-expert reader would conclude that an insufficient amount of
scientific knowledge exists which would serve as a basis for
publishing warnings of avoidable cancer hazards other than those named
Scientific knowledge does not support the conclusions stated above.
The New York State Department of Health uses its Cancer Webpage to
deceive the non-expert reader concerning the significance of pollutant
carcinogen exposure in cancer causation. Scientists have reached
broadly held consensus on the major role of pollutant carcinogen
exposure in cancer causation. Scientific knowledge supports the
provision of cancer hazard warnings for persistent organic pollutants
(POPs), carcinogenic metals and exhaust carcinogens. It is the
responsibility of public health entities in the federal and state
governments to provide these hazard warnings. Failure to provide such
warnings can only be attributed to an inability to give public health
priority over commerce. This inability exists due to the tremendous
amount of influence that corporations have in the affairs of
government. This inability exists due to the societal mechanisms that
place business people in dominant social positions. This inability
exists due to the love of money and status and political power.
New York State Department of Health Cancer Webpage
What is cancer?
Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases that begin when
abnormal cells in the body grow out of control. Normally, cells grow
and divide to create new cells as they are needed to keep the body
healthy. Sometimes this process of growing new cells does not work
properly and cancer forms.
Most cancers are named after the body part or cell where abnormal
growth begins. For example, cancer that begins in the breast is called
breast cancer, even if it spreads to other parts of the body.
How does cancer start?
Normal cells become cancer cells because of damage to DNA. DNA is in
every cell and directs all its actions. In a normal cell, when DNA
gets damaged, the cell either repairs the damage or it dies. In cancer
cells, the damaged DNA is not fixed, but the cell does not die like it
should. Instead, this cell goes on making new cells that the body does
How does cancer grow?
Abnormal cells can grow into a mass, or tumor. Not all tumors are
cancerous. Tumors can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign
(noncancerous). A malignant tumor, or cancer, can spread to other
parts of the body and form other tumors.
Some cancers, like leukemia, rarely form tumors. Instead, these cancer
cells are in the blood and blood-forming organs and flow through other
tissues, where they grow.
Some cancers grow quickly; others may grow slowly over many years.
How common is cancer?
Cancer is a very common disease. One of every two men and one of every
three women will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life.
In New York State, nearly one in four deaths is due to cancer.
Cancer can occur at any age, but it is most often found in those
people middle-aged and older. The number of people diagnosed with
cancer has increased over the past 40 years. Most of this is due to an
increase in the population and because people are living longer.
The most common cancers found in men, besides skin cancer, are
prostate, lung and colon cancer. Breast, lung and colon cancers are
the most common cancers found in women.
What causes cancer?
Different cancers have different causes and there are many factors
that affect a person’s chances of getting different types of cancer.
Sometimes there is a family history of cancer. Scientists agree that
people can get cancer through repeated long-term contact with
carcinogens . These include tobacco, sunlight, x-rays, and certain
chemicals that may be found in the air, water, food, drugs and
workplace. Our personal habits and lifestyle may contribute to
cancers. Scientists believe that about 30% of cancer deaths are due to
tobacco and between 25-30% of cancer deaths may be due to inadequate
physical activity, obesity and an unhealthy diet.
How soon after exposure to a carcinogen does cancer appear?
Most cancers develop slowly in people. They usually appear between
five to 40 years after exposure to a carcinogen. For example, lung
cancer may not occur until 30 years after a person starts smoking.
This long latency period is one of the reasons it is difficult to
determine what causes cancer in humans.
What does it mean when something “is associated with” cancer?
It means that there is a link between the two, but there is no proof
of cause and effect. More research needs to be done before we know for
Donald L. Hassig, Director
Cancer Action NY
Cancer Action News Network
P O Box 340
Colton, NY USA 13625