Journalism and Pesticides

May 22nd, 2004

To the Editor,

The stunningly bizarre factor at work in the pesticide “debate” is that journalists apparently cannot be bothered to read medical journals. These explicitly state the toxicological effects of pesticides. Neither do they read the MSDS sheets (Material Safety Data Sheets), which delineate the manufacturer’s admission that multisystemic, adverse effects can be experienced upon exposure.

When a physician’s group reviews thousands of documents and concludes that a group of chemicals are dangerous based upon the vast predominance of available research, why is Ms. Wente quoting the opinion of a disgruntled school janitor? He was mourning the fact that safe vinegar cleaners require a bit of elbow grease to do the job. However, reducing the use of solvent based cleaners whose MSDS sheets clearly state they are respiratory irritants, will save asthmatic students and teachers many days of missed instruction and pain. The janitor will still get paid and may even avoid the illness which is epidemic among professional cleaning personnel…that’s right, asthma! And vinegar is great for killing weeds as well…

If opinions rank in importance with scientific conclusions, then the Navy had best be consulting with the Flat Earth Society when drawing up its navigational charts so they don’t sail over the edge. The fact remains that no chemical has ever been able to eradicate a pest or weed and always creates a resistance which harms the overall effort. Yet the fantasy that chemicals are a “cure all” with safer methods being too much work or too expensive is a fiction that garners much profit for the chemical industry,

What do I know? My MRI shows the brain damage. My blood tests show the diminished levels of protective enzymes depleted from exposure to pesticides. My intelligence testing shows a 24 point drop in IQ. My insurance company has certified I will never work again. I was a teacher, poisoned in a school setting. And it has taken me two days to write this letter, which should have taken no more than 30 minutes.

Get the facts and keep out of harm’s way. I would love to be the last person crippled by these poisons for the sake of someone else’s convenience and profit. Or for fear of censure based upon a lawn full of dandelions.

Barbara Rubin

Categories: Globe and Mail

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