Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mass Natural - New York Times

Mass Natural - New York Times: Good article here on organic food, Wal-Mart's coming onto the scene, and the potential for compromise of the standards that now define what organic food is. There's also mention of atrazine, and its uncontrolled and unmeasured effects on the population. Could this atrazine be responsible for the relatively recent emergence of the term "chubby" as a slang term for an erection? That young people would even think to describe it that way shows that something's gone awry.

"Atrazine is a powerful herbicide applied to 70 percent of America's cornfields. Traces of the chemical routinely turn up in American streams and wells and even in the rain; the F.D.A. also finds residues of Atrazine in our food.

So what? Well, the chemical, which was recently banned by the European Union, is a suspected carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that has been linked to low sperm counts among farmers. A couple of years ago, a U.C. Berkeley herpetologist named Tyrone Hayes, while doing research on behalf of Syngenta, Atrazine's manufacturer, found that even at concentrations as low as 0.1 part per billion, the herbicide will chemically emasculate a male frog, causing its gonads to produce eggs — in effect, turning males into hermaphrodites. Atrazine is often present in American waterways at much higher concentrations than 0.1 part per billion. But American regulators generally won't ban a pesticide until the bodies, or cancer cases, begin to pile up — until, that is, scientists can prove the link between the suspect molecule and illness in humans or ecological catastrophe. So Atrazine is, at least in the American food system, deemed innocent until proved guilty — a standard of proof extremely difficult to achieve, since it awaits the results of chemical testing on humans that we, rightly, don't perform. "

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