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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 04 2014

Why I Don’t Trust the Acceptable Daily Intake Levels for Pesticides

By Mark Sisson
58 Comments

PesticidesThe supernaturally rational adherents to the Skeptic religion irk me. And it’s not because I disagree with all their stances. On many issues, they’re right. But the systematic, overarching, a priori denial of the viability of anything that even sniffs of “alternative” health is ridiculous. I’m not even annoyed at how they deride the ancestral health movement. What really gets me is their flippant dismissal of the potential risks of agricultural pesticides.

One article in particular, from Slate in 2012, exemplifies the sloppy, dangerous thinking on the subject. On the surface, it’s quite reasonable, persuasive, and it hits all the marks.

  • The author is a former organic fanatic for whom “organic was a synonym for edible” – so she’s been to the other side and knows how they think. She was swayed by the evidence. She’s no paid agro-shill.
  • She “[dug] into the literature” and “[talked] to toxicologists, horticulturists, risk experts, and nutritionists,” those gatekeepers of human knowledge. The all-powerful experts, infallible and untainted by conflicts of interest.
  • She dismisses the nutritional differences between organic and conventional produce, graciously allowing that the former “may” have fewer nitrates and more vitamin C and completely ignoring the evidence that shows major differences in other important nutrients.
  • She claims that “organic produce has pesticides too!” and focuses on rotenone, an organic pesticide that’s more toxic by weight than many synthetics and which organic food is presumably swimming in. Good thing organic farms in the United States aren’t actually allowed to use rotenone on their crops.
  • She’s unable to find solid numbers on pesticide residues on organic produce, concluding that “yes, organic produce can be pesticide-tainted, too.” Luckily, solid numbers do exist and organic produce is far less likely to be “tainted.”

But there’s another, maybe larger problem underlying this article and others like it: the unflappable acceptance of the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety assessments for synthetic pesticide intakes. You see, before pesticide manufacturers can sell their products in the United States, the EPA “must evaluate the pesticides thoroughly” to ensure they’re safe for humans and the environment. They then use this data to determine the ADI – the acceptable daily intake – for each pesticide. If a pesticide is being legally used in the United States, you have the authorities’ assurance that it’s totally safe.

I wish I could agree with them. I’d end the post here, leaving you snuggled up with the EPA’s cozy assurances that everything is going to be okay, you don’t need to waste money in the organic aisle, and you can stop bothering those nice vendors at the farmer’s market with silly questions about pesticide usage. But I’m afraid I can’t do that in good conscience.

Those EPA safety assessments have a few shortcomings. A recent paper highlights the weaknesses in the current regulatory environment surrounding pesticides in this country:

Pesticide manufacturers conduct the studies that produce most of the data the EPA uses to assess the pesticides.

In theory, the EPA accepts safety data culled from independently-funded pesticide studies, but the independent studies rarely satisfy the stringent and expensive eligibility requirements. The EPA works with the pesticide industry to establish these requirements, including study designs and methodologies that are often prohibitively expensive for non-industry researchers to fulfill (PDF). This usually leaves industry-funded research as the only viable options for inclusion and consideration. And industry-funded studies almost always get results that are favorable to industry. For instance, the easiest way to predict whether atrazine (an herbicide commonly used on corn and sugarcane) has biological effects in a study is to look at the funding source.

This constitutes a clear conflict of interest. It’s not incontrovertible proof of collusion or malfeasance, but it makes me uneasy.

Commercial pesticide formulations aren’t representative of the isolated active principles being tested in safety studies.

Pesticides aren’t just single chemicals. Commercially, they’re actually collections of various chemicals called formulations. These formulations contain the declared active principle, which is what the safety studies test, and adjuvants, which are supposedly inert and therefore safe. You know how toothpaste has active and inactive ingredients? Same thing here. Just like the supposedly inactive ingredients in toothpaste can have some physiologically significant effects, the adjuvants in pesticide formulations can alter the effect of the active principles.

Adjuvants aren’t included in pesticide formulations for the heck of it, you know. They perform important roles. Some are surfactants that, when included in a pesticide formulation, allow the pesticide to penetrate the cellular walls of insects, fungus, plants, and other pests. Others act as thickeners, emulsifiers, and anti-condensates that improve the distribution and resiliency of the pesticide. They can help pesticides resist rain, runoff, and evaporation. Adjuvants increase dermal absorption of pesticides, too. They are penetrants, remember? In other words, they make pesticides more effective, more resilient, and more damaging to pests; otherwise, they wouldn’t be included. And according to a recent paper, many adjuvants also amplify the toxic effects of pesticides on human health.

Using isolated human cells, the researchers compared the effects of nine popular pesticide formulations with those of their isolated principle ingredients on mitochondrial activity and membrane degradation. In 8 out of 9 instances, the commercial formulations were on average hundreds of times more toxic than the principle alone. The fungicides were the most toxic, followed by the herbicides, then the insecticides (which were comparatively less toxic). Of the herbicides, the extremely popular Roundup was 125 times more toxic than glyphosate, its principle ingredient.

The worst part of all this: most of the safety tests study the active principle, not the full pesticide formulation. This isn’t a new problem, either. As far back as 2006, researchers were questioning the logic behind allowing largely untested adjuvants into the food system via regulatory backdoors. This should be a no-brainer. If you’re assessing the toxicity of Roundup (Monsanto’s popular herbicide that goes on absolutely everything these days, from soybeans to your city parks), you have to actually test the toxicity threshold of Roundup – not just glyphosate. Right?

Pesticide safety studies rarely account for synergy between multiple pesticides.

Real world pesticide exposure doesn’t resemble laboratory pesticide exposure. We’re not exposed to one pesticide and given sufficient time to excrete it. We’re exposed to dozens of them, often all at once, in uncontrolled environments. Could the EPA be underestimating the cumulative effects of multiple pesticides? There’s evidence, at least in animal studies using coho salmonhoneybees, and rats that certain pesticides may be synergistic; when combined, their effects become greater than the sum of their parts. I don’t see why humans would be exempt from the effects of pesticide synergy.

If the effects of exposure to multiple pesticides were merely additive, that’d be one thing. We could tally up our exposures for each, compare them to the ADI, do a bit of simple arithmetic, spend several days trawling the pesticide literature for human health effects, and know where we stand. But if the effects of multiple pesticides are synergistic, if the effects are greater than the sum of the parts, we can’t rely on addition or the EPA’s assessments. Sure, you’d have to evaluate pesticide synergy on a case-by-case basis, and it’s going to be incredibly resource-intensive, but it must be done if we want accurate ADIs for pesticides.

Okay. What now?

Frozen with fear? Frantically purging your kitchen of all conventional foods? Don’t. That wasn’t my intent. Babies (including the yet-to-be-born) and children should probably go as organic as they can, just because of the unknown and potentially large effects pesticide exposure has on developing systems. Pregnant women, too. And if you eat a lot of these 9 foods, go organic as often as possible because they contain high levels of pesticide residue. But we all need to eat food, and eating conventional produce is healthier than eating none at all. Besides, there are plenty of non-organic foods that you can safely eat.

I just wanted to temper the unflappable faith many people seem to have in the experts, the institutions, the agencies. I wanted to get people talking and thinking. The EPA doesn’t deal in absolute truth; they miss an awful lot, either out of ignorance or because they’re looking the other way. No one does. I certainly don’t. If you meet someone claiming to have all the answer(s)? Run.

Let’s hear from you guys, now. What are your thoughts on pesticides and ADIs? The illusion of authority? Reassurances from the experts that their numbers are correct and you have nothing to worry about?

Thanks for reading.

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58 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Trust the Acceptable Daily Intake Levels for Pesticides”

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  1. Such a topic is a good reason why the protective relationship between big corporations and big government is never a good thing. Same goes for big pharma, food companies, insurance companies, and so on.

  2. The George Carlin approach is believe the opposite of whatever the government tells you is good for you.

    Also applicable to this rule are the names of legislation and bills (they do the opposite of the name ) and official economic data (often wrong and corrected 6 months later by posting the correction on the bottom right corner of page A16- for those that read newspapers cover to cover- like the job reports)…

    Carlin might have been on to something.

    1. Carlin was right!

      Read “Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA”. The author worked for the EPA for 25 years, so he saw a lot of strange (but not surprising things.

      To paraphrase Churchill’s comment: “The government will always do the right thing, after all else has failed.”

  3. This is how politicians stay in power–by protecting their donor’s interests.

  4. I’m in my 50’s and don’t see much downside to eating conventional produce going forward, it hasn’t killed me in five decades so what the hell.

    Also I have been free of parasites my entire life which I credit to not washing apples before eating them.

    1. To some extent I agree with you, although I do wash the apples. Just as the pests evolve to be able to withstand the poison they’re sprayed with, I suspect we humans develop a tolerance as well–not that inundating one’s self with poisons is ever a good idea.

      We don’t use pesticides or herbicides in the yard or in the garden, and we don’t use products laden with nasty chemicals in the house. However, I do buy some conventionally grown items from ye olde supermarket, and doing so does not concern me. (We are both very healthy and neither of us ever gets sick.)

      The problem with eating all-organic is that it’s very expensive. It can easily double the food bill, which many if not most people can’t afford. I’m convinced that eliminating sweets, grains, and other starchy foods has done way more for my health than an all-organic diet ever could. At some point in time the situation could change, but for the time being it isn’t something I stress out over.

  5. Great topic. Thank you for taking it on. It’s ridiculous what the EPA allows chemical companies to get away with in this country. Protecting the all mighty dollar instead of the healthy of its citizens.

  6. Very appropriate topic for election day.

    Personally, I am going to eat organically whenever I can, even when non-organic versions are not likely to hurt me. It isn’t “all about me.”

    1. Amen. Me too. As I tell people all the time, if you wouldn’t drink that Miracle gro straight, why would you feed your food that you will eat with it? I may not enjoy drinking liquid fish, but I could and it wouldn’t hurt me, so that’s what I grow my veggies with along with compost.

  7. I eat as much organic as my budget can stand, and prioritize the kids’ fruits and veggies before the stuff I eat. It’s definitely a shame we aren’t better protected from these things.

  8. There is a lot of “looking the other way”. The USDA bullying raw milk producers while the government condones letting the chemical companies poison us and patent franken seeds is a great example.

  9. Thanks, as always for your thorough research and critical evaluation, Mark! One of the most convincing arguments for me personally was a time when I couldn’t afford organic produce (it was a rough month freelancing) and ate a conventionally grown carrot. The taste was, well, missing! The contrast had never been so severe.
    It reminds me of that analogy our parents said when we were kids: bank tellers don’t study counterfeit bills to learn what’s counterfeit–they study the real thing. Same goes for food – you spend enough time eating the real thing and the conventional product is immediately evident.

  10. Here is an account of a Danish pig farmer who switched his pig feed away from RoundUp ready. I think he’s conflating the effects of GMO and RoundUp. My take is the RoundUp is the issue, and precisely as Mark points out, the “safe levels” allowed in foods and feed are set for the convience of the famers not public safety.

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Changing_from_GMO_to_non-GMO_soy.php

    1. Wow, that is a scary article. Although, I’m happy for the pig farmer and happy for the pigs. I hope that article gets a wide readership.

  11. All the more reason to grow your own, I have roast pumpkin, steamed kale and lightly fried (for the RS) potatoes tonight, grown by my own grubby hands, and fed only by sun, rain and my chickens’
    droppings!

    1. Yay, Tracey! Me too. I have 3 kinds of squash, parsnips, leeks, and herbs from my own chicken-litter-compost-fed garden. These days, I am buying local meat & eggs, since my chickens are moulting, but most of the year, I was pretty well set with their eggs.

  12. All of this logic applies to GMOs as well: companies controlling the data, all of it. Let’s hope for all our sakes 92 passes today.

    And the two go hand in hand: non-organic is not always, but often a GMO crop. So you are getting a triple whammy: one the pesticides.

    Two potentially serious consequences from the genetic manipulation. I know my back pain went straight away when giving up corn. I doubt it was all non-GMO corn I was getting. Would the corn of 100 years ago impacted me the same way? I don’t know. But modern corn gives me serious inflammation, at least.

    Third the whole point of eating veggies and fruits is to, presumably, get all those phytonutrients. But non-organic or non-local pesticide free produce is not under the same stress. They are often GMO chemically altered not producing the same phytonutrients.

    So you get less of the good stuff, much more of the harmful stuff, then the added ‘bonus’ of whatever the GMO crops may be doing to us. Hint, nothing good. Not going to become Spiderman eating GMO crops.

    1. On top of that is the fact that most GMO food is created for the express purpose of being able to dump MORE herbicides on the crops. So, not only are we getting questionable food through genetic modification, but that food is then coated in even more chemicals. Not to mention the severe environmental impacts of it all.

  13. Sorry for a double post, but I’ve been thinking about this just the past few days after watching the film Food Matters. I wish Mark would do a post about it.

    I’ve always thought of my former morbid obesity as my body doing the absolute best it could to keep me alive. And, as healthy as possible given the inputs I was giving to it. My liver and muscles had probably become resistant to insulin so my fat cells was the only place to go to. Fortunately I found Primal before becoming T2. How close I was I will never know. But close.

    But what if the body, which is a lot smarter than all of us put together, also ‘knew’ about the dangers of all the conventional food I was eating in terms of pesticides and the best it could do was store it as fat and not let it do damage to my body?

    I started eating a lot more organic during my weight loss. Also more grass fed beef and completely cut out processed foods. So my toxic load day in day out was cut dramatically.

    The body knowing this now think hey I can process these toxics out little by little through pee and number two since I was not overtaxing it with new toxics every day? For sure my maconutrients changed and probably number of calories, I didn’t calorie count. But what if there is an extra incentive for bodies to store fat when the body ‘knows’ the food contains all this toxic load? It knows it can’t detoxify and ends up storing it as fat.

    It would be interesting to study to try and have controls eating CAFO beef, not organic veggies. Then grass fed beef, organic veggies and compare weight loss.

    So maybe one of the reasons tens of millions of Americans are carrying fat around because it is the only place the body can put the pesticides at when it keeps getting more pesticides and other stuff daily?

  14. Reminds me of the book ‘ Bad Pharma’, most drug trials are funded by big business so try to not get sick! I lost faith in government institutions a long time ago, some of them really try but big business has all the power, they even control who becomes president….
    It really is a shame the way our food is being destroyed when there are other ways of farming. Time to become a subsistence farmer….
    Thanks for another great article.

  15. No surprises here. I wouldn’t trust much coming out of the governments $^4#. Gulf of Tonkin to start war in Vietnam…Weapons of mass destruction, etc. etc…ad infinitum. When they lie about going to war you can bet they don’t care about your measly little health.
    I took Denise Mingers’ (Death by Food Pyramid) advice on how to study clinical trials and the author Mark mentions broke almost every rule of good science. Thanks for pointing this out Mark.

  16. Hi All,

    It seems to me that if the measurement of pesticides and their residues were given some real attention, we would ALL notice that I feel better without them.

    A few brave souls might notice their ‘incurable chronic’ diseases going away.

    Of course we need a double blind randomized trial with lots of people dying to ‘make sure’ !! …. That’s what one MD told me !

    I just had a glass of raw milk and some freshly cracked black walnuts for lunch.

    So, for me at least, life is good.

    My simple rule is: If it has a brand name label of any type it is probably bad for me.

    John

  17. Don’t obsess, by organic when you can (and pricing isn’t crazy).
    There are for sure some conventional grown items to stay away from due to the amount of pesticides needed to even make the crop viable. (strawberries prime example)

    If you are making homemade baby food… organic all the way even when price is crazy.,

  18. Thanks Mark,

    This is great information! The culprit of food based health problems seems to be what goes into the mass production of factory foods. Nutrient quality, food safety and shelf life are contradictory to profit margin. This goes for the large scale producers as well as the government officials appointed to “look after” them. The power brokers in the federal three letter agencies seem more concerned that the share prices of MON, ADM, DOW have dipped below the 200 day moving average than what mischief is necessary to increase their respective $55, $31 and $58 market caps. I will happily continue to invest in my local CSA instead. Knowing our local farmers is more important than knowing our politicians who sell out for power and influence. Small scale organic farming is not as lucrative as mass production. Therefore one may assume our local organic farmers care more about our health than his/her net worth. Do you think whoever is on the ballot today would ever work as hard for a buck as the person tending animals and raising crops the way nature intended?

  19. Before I retired, I spent my career as a civil/environmental engineer working on groundwater and soil remediation. It’s remarkable how many “acceptable exposure limits” to various chemicals are set by (a) picking a round number similar to other limits, (b) negotiation with interested parties, (c) equal to the value that can be consistently measured by lab equipment, or (d) my person favorite: the value achievable by current cleanup technology. Can’t set a lower limit if it can’t be measured nor achieved. The results may not be protective of human health or the environment, but may be just the best that can be done with current science and gov’t budgets.

    So if it’s potential exposure is important to you, get the information to make informed choices. Know the conventional foods to avoid, if possible.

    And if you want to dig a little deeper, search “basis for EPA limit on [chemical*]”. You’ll get the background on how the limit was set–human health risk assessment? current technology limitations? assumed to act same as some other chemical? based on a 1945 study? A very nerdy way to spend some time.

    *When I was consulting on a project, we used “tetra-ethyl-death” as a generic name for a harmful chemical. Never in writing, of course. Engineers have a weird sense of humor.

  20. I once went to a talk that Tyrone Hayes gave at a nearby university. It was interesting, informative, and for some reason the university official that introduced him performed an original rap composition of hers before he came onstage.

  21. Another reason to favor organic produce is in consideration of the health of the workers (almost always immigrant populations) who are picking our fruits and vegetables. Exposures to pesticides and toxins during harvest has been linked to cancer and other illnesses in this group.

  22. Couldn’t you just say: “I don’t trust the acceptable daily intake levels for pesticides because the information is coming from the Federal government”? That does it for me.

  23. I’m happy to avoid as many pesticides and anything else not-so-good-for-us, so this is just another reminder to note the “Dirty Dozen,” which I had not noted before, and keep on thinking about ways to get better quality meats from local sources!

  24. My step father was a farmer in Australia (he’s now retired). His family, like all the farming families in the area, farmed conventionally. He would never allow children or younger family members anywhere near the sprays he handled. He always worried about them especially for reproductive aged people. He never had children himself so he handled all the chemicals. It is sad now to realise how many of his farmer neighbours have had cancer. Maybe these are not unusual numbers but then again who really knows?

  25. Excellent post Mark! Unfortunately because of budget, we do buy conventional more often then we like. However, all our meat and meat products are always naturally raised.

  26. Well, you scared the wits right out of me. You know, even the people that are fruitarians and that eat ONLY fruit and veggies, are not shouting about the pesticide issue. I think it is ignored because there is just no way to get solid data from anyone but the companies that do the research – as you said.

    My daughter has been drinking soy milk since day 1. She’s 5 now. I’ll change to something else. Not sure what, but the risk seems to be in long-term ingestion of the same sorts of chemicals over and over. I think the best we can do is break it up.

    The other ‘best’ we can do is to grow our own organic fruits and vegetables.

    I wonder just in general… what is better, a diet of seafood – from the ocean, or fruits and vegetables? The ocean has SO much water… it just seems to me like all the junk that has made its way down our rivers, might be fairly well dilute and overall fish and other food items from the sea could be less tainted than anything grown on land and sprayed directly with chemicals.

    Anyone’s thoughts?

  27. Excellent article Mark and clear posts above- hitting the nail on the head!
    I made the journey from toxic conventional farming to organic 24 years ago (South Africa) for all the reasons you mention and many of those cited above. Many are the reasons for this dismal state of our food, in every country and we are responsible, indirectly mostly. We can change the system by voting with our money- each dollar not spent on toxic tacos is one less for the contaminated corn and one more dollar for the clean crops- a double effect!
    I do know what farmers spray on their crops (I have been there!) and often it is much more than recommended, through either higher dose or “cocktails” (which are thousands of times more potent than the individual constituents), because the bugs or weeds have become resistant to the poison; so ever higher doses or more toxic cocktails are used and so the cycle is repeated. Cancer is rife in our farming community- one of the side effects of all the poisons we use in agriculture.
    Denial-ism is usually driven by ego and/or greed and my advice to denialists is to try the non-toxic way- the benefits will amaze you- by following the links in Mark’s article and also looking at the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) website: http://www.ewg.org which has all the info you require to study the topic and also printable shopping guides.
    Do remember: a farmer using toxics is usually on a treadmill and sees no alternative, yet- we can help convert farmers by showing them the alternative works! and rocks! For our children.

  28. Anthropomorphism creates ethical vegetarians.

    The growing of plants that need mechanical harvesting and processing, and store well can be controlled by a few people in power.

    Pesticides make more of the aforementioned plants for us: not the ‘pests’, which increases profit. (Think of the Brawndo Corporation crash in Idiocracy).

    Pesticides are poisoning the land the food is grown on. But not bad enough for apocalypse in this electoral term.

    If an animal has to die to sustain a human, it can still be given utmost respect. It could even be seen as the ultimate sacrifice to benefit humanity.

    Is the problem all of us: or ‘them’, or is all of us ‘them’?

  29. This is how politicians and big businesses work together to take full advantage of their collaboration.

  30. That definitely freaked me out a little, but information is power and I’m going to use it!

  31. Solution to the conflict of interest in research: Have the pesticide manufacturer also pay an equal amount for an equal number of studies by an environmental group.
    Also, require the entire pesticide be used in these studies instead of individual components.
    Use pesticide cocktails in studies as well.

  32. “Between a rock and a hard place”. If we buy inorganic produce we risk our health; on the other hand, organic is not accessible to many to do high cost.

    And if you haven’t read the article about the way Amish Farmers are reinventing Organic Agriculture, I urge you to do so.

    “One of the main things that has improved is how it feels to farm. Before, if I applied fungicide on my tomatoes, I had to wait three to seven days before I could reenter the area. Now, it’s so nice to just walk in my field any day of the week and not worry a bit. That in itself is huge. The other thing is, when I used to mix these skull-and-cross-bones chemicals to put in my sprayer, I’d have to be suited up. The children would be around and I’d say, “Now, get in the house. It’s not safe.” Now though, if the children want to help, it’s fine. If I want to mix the solutions better, I’ll just put my hand in a stir it around.” I for one would love to get my hands on those vegetables (-:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/the-amish-farmer-replacing-pesticides-with-nutrition/380825/

  33. I try to not think about it too much normally but as a new primal eater, I already feel like I can’t eat anything. If I stop eating apples, I seriously don’t see what fruit I will eat… This summer was a joy with all the (non-organic) fruit variety I could eat but now that it’s winter, I can only eat apples, frozen fruits and organic bananas when the store has them.

    I rationally know that it’s better to eat non-organic produce than to not eat it but if I were to be pregnant, I know myself, I would anguish over it like there is no tomorrow. I read somewhere that there is still a great amount of pesticides even if you peal the apples, is it true?

    1. This is an interesting article, to be sure, but it’s important to maintain a rational attitude. Buy organic if and when you can; if you can’t, then don’t worry about it. Becoming paranoid over what you eat isn’t the answer. There are millions upon millions of healthy people who eat nothing but conventionally grown foods. Eating non-organic does not automatically sentence one to a lifetime of poor health and disease, just as eating an all-organic diet won’t necessarily protect you from becoming sick.

      1. Thanks for your reply! I already know all that though and I try to be rational, as I said. I just know that I won’t be able to remain national if I ever get pregnant. I already wonder what I will do with the ubiquitous bpa receipt.

        Just the fact that I never read the dirty dozen list before despite knowing about it’s existence shows that I try to not worry too much about it!

  34. I have to add in that while eating produce that may have been sprayed with pest repelling chemicals could be fine in moderation for our bodies, it is NOT fine for the farm workers in the fields and people that reside near the fields–or the schools/businesses that reside right in the middle of agricultural areas. Those schools (and all those children/teachers) get hit really hard by pesiticides. We’re all guinea pigs in this–before buying the conventional produce that is less expensive, I often think about whether or not I want my kids living next door to those agricultural areas. I get upset if my neighbors are using RoundUp to kill their weed fields. Do we really think RoundUp knows only to kill the weeds and not everything else?

    1. I should’ve read through all the posts before posting below, but thank you! 100% agree. Modern ag (especially large scale horticulture of fruits & vegetables) depends largely on abusing agricultural farm workers in multiple ways, including using them as guinea pigs for the harmful chemicals that we are trying to avoid in minute amounts in the final product.

  35. It amazes me how libertarian so many of the commenters here are… I thought Paleo was dominated by big-government statists. This was a cool surprise!

    1. Dear Paleo Ayn Rand and several others: To use the vegan model, please show me any hunter-gatherer/paleo society, extinct or extant, that wasn’t completely communistic. To think libertarianism or objectivism is compatible with our evolutionary psychology is delusional. The individual means nothing to nature to this day, only the group with it’s specie’s DNA matters. And that’s how we lived, and our primate ancestors still do. To coin a phrase, “One for all, and all for one.” Hmmmm…..maybe Marx was paleo!

      Further, despite the many flaws in implementation of environmental law, what if there wasn’t an EPA? Oh, wait, I DO remember that era. Not only that, but I recently came across some ancient pesticide containers in our relatively ancient family home. The labeling is a joke! Put this amount of concentrate in that amount of water, and oh, by the way, don’t drink it.

      I wasn’t around at the creation of the FDA, that was a hundred years ago. Again, yes, flawed, but better than not. If you don’t know why the FDA was created, read up.

      Should the EPA do their own tests, including as formulated, not sole ingredient? Of course! Why don’t they? Because they are evil? Because they are corporate lackeys? Oh, now we are getting closer! Because the rules are written by the corporate lobbyists who are often ex-FDA employees? Ding! Ding! Ding!

      We don’t need less government. We need effective government. As long as we live in a Citizens United corporacracy, it will never be.

      1. Show you a society without government? Ancient Ireland was completely anarchical for 1000 years: http://www.mindnovelty.com/stateless-societies-how-ancient-ireland-existed-without-government-for-over-1000-years/
        As to your note that before the EPA there was no effective labeling, this was just (as with most government programs) a co-opting of a new free-market function by the government; i.e., the free market made a discovery (the harmful nature of chemicals in the food we eat) and the government “stepped in” (i.e. robbed you at gunpoint- “taxes”) to save the day.
        Marx was not Paleo, and nothing about him should be emulated. For example, after impregnating his mistress, he threw her out of his house and never owned up to the child he created. (I guess ownership of one’s creations is an effect of property rights, so at least he was consistent!)

        1. My comment about Marx was tongue in cheek. Take some deep breaths.

          When two or more are in community, there is government. Groups make decisions. Should we move to that other watering hole? Who do we defer to as a good leader? What do we do about these pale skins moving into the neighborhood?

          The government robbed me at gunpoint? Find some new meds, dude. Alternatively, understand what a “non sequitur” is.

          I would much rather pay taxes to have a civilized society than be victimized by the corporations. I guess my observations about the found pesticides was just all right with you. Oliver Wendall Holmes observed that taxes are the price of a civilized society. I kind of like having police, public schools, clean water and air, and a welfare system. (Not the corporate kind!)

          I skimmed your article, which is obviously from a biased source, and I saw mostly word play. And that is not a paleo society. The only thing standing between you, a powerless individual, against greed, oligarcy, and business is government. Imperfect? Yes. Human. Just like you and me.

          Despite your bleatings, again, there is NO evidence that HG or paleo societies were libertarian. As we challenge the vegetarians and vegans, show me one, anywhere. At any time.

  36. UGH! This totally gets me going. Thanks so much for bringing this issue into the conversation Mark and, as always, for engaging in such thoughtful and well-informed discussion.

    What especially irks me about all of these proponents OKing really horrendous chemicals is that in all of these discussions we are looking at “health” from such a narrow, myopic lens. How can we detach our health from the health of the population as a whole, from the health of our environment? For me, the residues on the food or the impact these chemicals have on my body are only one, fairly small piece of the puzzle. So many of the chemicals approved on the market have been shown to have high mammalian toxicity and persistence. They’re STILL finding high levels of DDT in ground water and runoff and it’s technically been off the market since the 70s (when it was discovered to be ridiculous toxic to secondary species). This approach of “it hasn’t been shown to be dangerous (in our absurdly small time frame of assessment) so let’s just keep using it until people start dying and then reevaluate it” is really doing nothing but screwing over future generations so we don’t have to deal with it. Environmental health is 100% a factor in our own personal health – so when you’re making the choice to support practices that completely disregard the rest of the ecosystem, it IS affecting your health.

    They also pay no attention to the health of the agricultural workers that are applying these chemicals or working in fields where they’re being used. Chronic toxicity of pesticide exposure has been woefully understudied, partly because it’s hard to monitor over large periods of time (especially when those most affected are undocumented workers who, let’s face it, no one in politics or science (at least the ones with the money) really cares about), but there’s no question that long term effects are being experienced by these workers. There was recently some murmurs (really just that…murmurs) in the media about Nicaraguan cane workers suffering absurdly high rates of kidney disease, with (among other theories) questions raised about the use of glyphosate (roundup) and whether it might be a potential suspect, and I remember reading talks of studies being done but have not seen anything since.

    Anyways, this long rant was merely to advocate that we do not operate in a bubble, and individual choices have consequences outside the individual. That was much more concise than the rest of my post.

  37. For me, choosing to eat organic is simple after seeing a guy spraying a field while wearing the equivalent of a hazmat suit.

  38. Find some new meds? Find some civility. You would, of course, being a Statist, accuse someone with a different opinion from you of having mental illness- this has been a common feature of authoritarian governments forever (e.g. to label someone as “mentally ill” who disagrees with the State and then to cage him in an “asylum.”) Stalin did it, Hitler did it. Many dictators in South America today still do it.
    To address your points, YOU may rather have taxes. I would not. YOU would rather have police and public schools. I would rather be responsible for me and my own. I will let you associate with other people to pool costs for your perceived needs. Now will you, without threats of imprisonment (and lethal force against me should I refuse to allow you to cage me in your jail), let me live my life, free from restrictions and impingement on my liberty? Thank you so much in advance!