Every year almost a billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed in fields and orchards across the US. Even with the the growing demand for organics, 85% of cropland relies on herbicides. While this rampant use of pesticides increases the heatlh risks for our entire population, the most far reaching effects are on our children. John F. Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” Clearly today’s farming practices are putting our future at risk.
Last month, two studies were released that looked into the effects of pesticide exposure. One found a drop of one-third in normally formed sperm in men with high levels of pesticide. The pesticides were specifically linked to the consumption of “conventional” (non-organic) fruits and vegetables. This is not the first study to suggest a link between pesticides and male infertility.
The second study linked a one-third higher rate of autism to children of mothers who had been exposed to pesticides while pregnant. In this case they looked primarily at spray drift from agricultural fields.
A senior researcher at MIT, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, declared at a conference last December, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” Dr. Seneff noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism.
These studies join a myriad of previous studies that link pesticides to a variety of acute and chronic health problems, including asthma attacks, respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and dizziness. Because these symptoms appear similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as “the flu,” they are often misdiagnosed. And because many pesticides are fat-soluble, they can remain in the body for years. Multiple scientific studies link pesticides to cancer, birth defects, nervous system disorders, and immune deficiency
Many researchers feel that kids today are sicker than they were a generation ago. A growing body of scientific evidence points to pesticides as a reason why. Researches point out that “Children are not ‘little adults’.” Children’s vulnerability to pesticide exposure is increased by their greater cell division rates and early stage of organ, nervous, reproductive, and immune system development. In addition, pesticide concentrations in their fatty tissues may be greater because their fat as a percentage of total body weight is lower.
What can be done to protect our children — and our children-to-be?
The first thing anyone who is a parent or is thinking of becoming a parent should do is to start buying organic food. Most grocery stores these days have an organic section. If you cannot afford to go completely organic, at least get to know the “Dirty Dozen”. These are fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues. By choosing organic versions of this food or by avoiding these foods completely, you can reduce your pesticide consumption by almost 80%.
The Dirty Dozen
Sweet bell peppers
DRINK PURIFIED WATER
It is a pretty well established fact that we have pesticides in our tap water. Pesticide residues leach into our water supply from farms, neighborhood homes and city parks. Filtering water is not the same as purifying it. Research your options for clean, pure water.
AVOID ADDING CHEMICALS INTO YOUR HOME AND GARDEN
There is a reason why the market for organic clothes, furniture, paints, building materials and household cleansers has exploded. Conventional cotton farming takes up 3% of the world’s farmland and uses 10% of the world’s pesticides. Most non-organic fabrics (for clothing and furniture) undergo significant processing that involves petrochemical dyes, formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage, volatile organic compounds, dioxin-producing bleach and chemical fabric softeners. Again, do your research, especially if a baby or young child is in the house.
INVEST IN YEARLY PANCHAKARMA TREATMENTS
While the traditional detoxification and purification treatments of Ayurveda may not be the advised for children, anyone planning on conceiving should consider a 6-month purification plan that includes these pesticide-removing treatments. Panchakarma is the only proven approach to removing fat-soluble chemicals from the body. Research has shown that a 5-day course of treatment can remove 50% of toxins such as DDT, PCBs and dioxins from the body.
The Raj has offered an Ayurvedic Pre-Conception program for over 20 years. The program involves very specific diet and lifestyle recommendations, herbal formulations and Panchakarma treatments. For more information, contact The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa: