>Let's look at this from the Brazilian farmer's viewpoint: the clever North
>Americans and Europeans are taking the world markets on grain by taxpayer
>subsidies forcing the non-subsidized nations to outproduce--this means
>dstroying the rain forests, using all the chemicals it takes to gain high
>production etc. They are able to do this because the clever North
>and Europeans are willing and able to sell them chemicals at a high profit
>that cannot be sold in the cleverer worlds.
I have a question regarding the practice of selling pesticides that
cannot be sold in America to farmers abroad. After selling these
banned substances, do we in turn purchase the produce that these
chemicals were used on?
Hi Mike -
Oh yeah! we do. That is part of what PAN calls "The circle of poison" - we
send it "away" and "out there" but it comes back very much "here" - not
only through our food but also through our ecosystem - including, for
instance, DDT. And those pesticides can travel quite a distance in a short
period of time:
"Pesticide contamination is now a global problem. Often spraying in one
area of the world will result in pesticides ending up someplace else... A
few days after spraying was done in Lubbock, TX, pesticides appeared in
Cincinnati, approximately 1500 miles to the northeast. Toxaphene pesticide
sprayed in Greenville, MS, has been shown to be deposited in St. Louis and
900 miles to the north in northern Lake Michigan and Isle Royale in Lake
Superior." (Dr. William Rea, _Chemical Sensitivity: Sources of Total Body
Load_, p.839. He includes references for each of these events.)
This is likely the reason that DDT, for instance, is found all over the
globe, including in Antarctic ice and polar bears.
Now, regarding food, some will point to laws forbidding certain levels of
certain pesticides in food and say that that will minimize our risk from
pesticides in imported food. But the procedures for testing pesticide
residues in our food is so pitiful (as assessed by independent
organizations and government oversight bodies) as to provide little comfort
at all - they test such a very small amount of the produce, for only some
pesticides (missing some of the most commonly-used ones) and the testing
takes so long that even if they find a pesticide problem, the food is
almost always long ago sold by the time they find out. Of course, when
they do test, they don't ask "Is any there?" but "Is the amount there above
the level we've determined will only kill a very few people?" Just, in
all, not reassuring.
One friend of mine - who consults on ag issues internationally - says that
many international producers use whatever they want on their crops, even if
they know food is destined for our markets, knowing it's highly unlikely
that it'll ever be detected by our system.
I don't know if they test for DDT in food from abroad, for instance, and if
they do, if there's still an acceptable level of residue. If you wanted to
know more about specific banned pesticides still used in other countries
and what levels would be allowed back here (either legally or realistically
through the system cracks), I'd contact PAN:
* Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), 116 New Montgomery, #810,
San Francisco, CA 94105. (415) 541-9140. Fax:(415) 541-9253. Email:
email@example.com. Web site: http://www.panna.org/panna/. Online mailing
They track this topic in great detail.
By the way, the information about pesticide use internationally is quite
chilling - pesticides sold without labels or where farmers don't know
English to follow directions on rates to use (which is, of course, the
whole premise on which these poisons are allowed to be sold - that if they
only use this small amount, only "a few" people will be harmed) - as well
as containers being used for food, water, and children's play toys, etc.
The fact that pesticides so toxic that they got through our maze to be
banned here (it's quite hard to get something banned here) are being used
under such uncontrolled conditions in other countries should warrant our
concern, because of our humanity, even if it weren't coming back and
poisoning us too.