Benbrook, Charles, Perry, Melissa J., Belpoggi, Fiorella, Landrigan, Philip J., Perro, Michelle, Mandrioli, Daniele, Antoniou, Michael N., Winchester, Paul, & Mesnage, Robin; “Commentary: Novel strategies and new tools to curtail the health effects of pesticides;” Environmental Health, 2021, 20(1); DOI: 10.1186/s12940-021-00773-4.
BACKGROUND: Flaws in the science supporting pesticide risk assessment and regulation stand in the way of progress in mitigating the human health impacts of pesticides. Critical problems include the scope of regulatory testing protocols, the near-total focus on pure active ingredients rather than formulated products, lack of publicly accessible information on co-formulants, excessive reliance on industry-supported studies coupled with reticence to incorporate published results in the risk assessment process, and failure to take advantage of new scientific opportunities and advances, e.g. biomonitoring and “omics” technologies.
RECOMMENDED ACTIONS: Problems in pesticide risk assessment are identified and linked to study design, data, and methodological shortcomings. Steps and strategies are presented that have potential to deepen scientific knowledge of pesticide toxicity, exposures, and risks.
We propose four solutions:
(1) End near-sole reliance in regulatory decision-making on industry-supported studies by supporting and relying more heavily on independent science, especially for core toxicology studies. The cost of conducting core toxicology studies at labs not affiliated with or funded directly by pesticide registrants should be covered via fees paid by manufacturers to public agencies.
(2) Regulators should place more weight on mechanistic data and low-dose studies within the range of contemporary exposures.
(3) Regulators, public health agencies, and funders should increase the share of exposure-assessment resources that produce direct measures of concentrations in bodily fluids and tissues. Human biomonitoring is vital in order to quickly identify rising exposures among vulnerable populations including applicators, pregnant women, and children.
(4) Scientific tools across disciplines can accelerate progress in risk assessments if integrated more effectively. New genetic and metabolomic markers of adverse health impacts and heritable epigenetic impacts are emerging and should be included more routinely in risk assessment to effectively prevent disease.
CONCLUSIONS: Preventing adverse public health outcomes triggered or made worse by exposure to pesticides will require changes in policy and risk assessment procedures, more science free of industry influence, and innovative strategies that blend traditional methods with new tools and mechanistic insights.
Perro, Michelle, “Childhood Leukemia, the Microbiome, and Glyphosate: A Doctor’s Perspective,” GMOScience.org, January 15, 2019.
- Childhood leukemia is on the rise
- Exposure to pesticides is known to increase the risk of childhood leukemia, as well as other types of cancer
- New research links an impoverished gut microbiome (bacterial community) and chronic inflammation with increased risk of childhood leukemia
- Diet-related ways are being sought to improve the microbiome and prevent the inflammation that triggers childhood leukemia
- Glyphosate herbicides are used on around 90% of GM crops; glyphosate has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer agency IARC
- Exposure to glyphosate-based and other pesticides has been shown to disrupt the gut microbiome in laboratory animals
- People who eat organic food have been found to have a 25% reduced risk of cancer
- Clinical experience shows that switching to an organic and non-GMO diet improves people’s health
- Controlled studies are needed to verify how switching to an organic and non-GMO diet affects the microbiome and certain disease conditions.
Perro, Michelle and Adams, Vincanne, “What’s Making Our Children Sick? How Industrial Food Is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness, and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It,” Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017.
With chronic disorders among American children reaching epidemic levels, hundreds of thousands of parents are desperately seeking solutions to their children’s declining health, often with little medical guidance from the experts. What’s Making Our Children Sick? convincingly explains how agrochemical industrial production and genetic modification of foods is a culprit in this epidemic. Is it the only culprit? No. Most chronic health disorders have multiple causes and require careful disentanglement and complex treatments. But what if toxicants in our foods are a major culprit, one that, if corrected, could lead to tangible results and increased health? Using patient accounts of their clinical experiences and new medical insights about pathogenesis of chronic pediatric disorders—taking us into gut dysfunction and the microbiome, as well as the politics of food science—this book connects the dots to explain our kids’ ailing health.
What’s Making Our Children Sick? explores the frightening links between our efforts to create higher-yield, cost-efficient foods and an explosion of childhood morbidity, but it also offers hope and a path to effecting change. The predicament we now face is simple. Agroindustrial “innovation” in a previous era hoped to prevent the ecosystem disaster of DDT predicted in Rachel Carson’s seminal book in 1962, Silent Spring. However, this industrial agriculture movement has created a worse disaster: a toxic environment and, consequently, a toxic food supply. Pesticide use is at an all-time high, despite the fact that biotechnologies aimed to reduce the need for them in the first place. Today these chemicals find their way into our livestock and food crop industries and ultimately onto our plates. Many of these pesticides are the modern day equivalent of DDT. However, scant research exists on the chemical soup of poisons that our children consume on a daily basis. As our food supply environment reels under the pressures of industrialization via agrochemicals, our kids have become the walking evidence of this failed experiment. What’s Making Our Children Sick? exposes our current predicament and offers insight on the medical responses that are available, both to heal our kids and to reverse the compromised health of our food supply.