How Authorities try to Convince us that Pesticides are ‘safe’

 Reprinted, with thanks,  from Majia’s blog,
 Sunday, April 14, 2013

Engineering Consent Through Propaganda

Edward Bernays is responsible for encouraging ‘leaders’ to manage the public through public relations, rather than leveling with them about real conditions. See the Century of the Self here and read Bernay’s book, Propaganda, here.

Bernays’ encouraged the titans of industry and presidents to engineer consent using propaganda that appealed to people’s instinctual drives and herd instinct.

Bernays approach was and remains sociopathic, but also very effective, as illustrated by the following anecdote:

Yesterday while at my oldest son’s track meet (for 5 hours) I had the opportunity to chat with other parents.

One parent is a dietician. I asked her opinion about the new sweetner Stevia and her response was ‘all things in moderation.’

Unfortunately for me, that precipitated a rather distressing conversation that re-affirmed my belief that Bernays was correct about human susceptibility to authority and crowd instincts.

She said there was ‘no evidence’ that organic food produces better health outcomes than non-organic food and that the way to deal with pesticides is to eat a range of food so that one doesn’t get exposed to too much pesticides from any particular food.

It all sounds so reasonable if one is ignorant of

1.) how pesticides are actually used, especially in conjunction with herbicides and fungicides

2.) the methodologies used to test the safety of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides

3.) the decades of research showing adverse biological effects for nearly every industry-assured ‘safe’ pesticides

4.) the role of chemical synergies

5.) bioaccumulation processes and biomagnification effects across species

For the dietician I spoke with, disease is ‘genetic’ and the environment is largely irrelevant insofar as contaminants are concerned. So, the items listed above don’t even register as analytical questions to ask about exposure.

Why does she believe that health is determined strictly by genes and lifestyle (narrowly defined)? She believes this platform because it comprises the established medical orthodoxy.

For most medical practitioners what matters are hereditary genes and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, exercise and diet (diet construed narrowly in relation to type of foods consumed with no regard for additives or chemical residues from production). This dogma is a simplistic representation that is both reductionistic and mechanistic.

In truth, diseases can be genetic, but not simply in a hereditary fashion. Genes produce proteins in environments and genetic and epigenetic operations (definition of epigenetics here) are always influenced by those environments. Chemicals and radiation can destroy genes and affect their transcription processes in subtle ways that have not-so subtle implications for many, many diseases (e.g., asthma, cancer, ADHD, autism, Parkinsons, etc).

Since I knew I had the opportunity for one response before being regarded as “pushy and contentious” I merely said that I did not trust EPA and FDA safety protocols because they allow manufactures to conduct their own tests, which are typically performed during very short time periods (e.g., 96 hours to 90 days) in laboratory conditions with animals and do not replicate real world accumulation and do not address effects on developing beings with rapid cell division.

I said real knowledge of the health effects of environmental chemicals requires decades of studies comparing exposure levels and diseases across lifespans.

That was a 60 second sound byte. I knew I had to move on or be regarded as inappropriately rude.

I was very frustrated. Anyone who ‘reads’ and investigates knows that pesticide after pesticide has been pulled from the market for safety reasons. Remember when Dursban was pulled by the EPA in 2000 because it causes developmental delays in children? (see the EPA statement here).

More recently the entire class of organophosphate pesticides (of which Dursban was a member) has been implicated as causing problems in children because they are neurotoxins:

Environmental Health Perspectives ReportsStrength in Numbers: 
Three Separate Studies Link in Utero Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Cognitive Development by Kimberly Gray, Cindy P. Lawled

Majia here: Even the mainstream media has published articles on the relationship between pesticides and ADHD, as illustrated here.

The research on herbicides such as Round-Up is even more alarming. For example, see report here and take a look at this article:

ROUND-UP TOXIC TO HUMAN PLACENTAL JEG3 CELLS Richard, S., Moslemi, S., Sipahutar, H., Benachour, N. Seralini, G. (2005). Environmental Health Perspectives [abstract] “Here we show that glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants. Surprisingly, Roundup is always more toxic than its active ingredient…We conclude that endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup, not just glyphosate, can be observed in mammals. We suggest that the presence of Roundup adjuvants enhances glyphosate bioavailability and/or bioaccumulation….”

Majia here: What concerns me is that dietician speaks with authority but she has not read the research that does exist which establishes that pesticides and other chemicals do indeed pose RISKS, especially for developing beings.

No doubt the gap in understanding derives from the orthodoxy of her profession and the medical field more generally.

It is important to point out that this orthodoxy is not simply naive. Rather, the dominant framework is entirely political in that it dominates by excluding and marginalizing dissenting evidence and opinions.

That is where Edward Bernays comes in. He taught leaders of American industry and presidents how to ‘engineer consent’ by appealing to the hard instinct. He described how control could be exercised over entire societies by selecting and grooming authoritative opinion leaders who would herd the masses.

Educated and intelligent people are susceptible to this herding, especially if the authorities in their profession reiterate over and over again the dominant dogma using ‘reasonable’ and ‘scientific’ vocabularies.

In contrast, true knowledge stems from INQUIRY and CRITICAL investigation. It demands investigation of anomalies and disconnections.

We are living in a time of anomalies. Ecosystems around us are crashing and yet still we believe that ‘low doses’ are safe because we fail to recognize the roles of synergy and interdependence, bio-accumulation, and bio-magnification:

Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived. Nature 471 (2011)

[Abstract] Palaeontologists characterize mass extinctions as times when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540 million years or so. Biologists now suggest that a sixth mass extinction may be under way, given the known species losses over the past few centuries and millennia. Here we review how differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological information influence our understanding of the current extinction crisis. Our results confirm that current extinction rates are higher than would be expected from the fossil record, highlighting the need for effective conservation measures [end]

Majia’s Examples here.

Environmental Chemicals: Evaluating Low-Dose Effects. In Environmental Health Perspectives. By Linda S. Birnbaum, Director, NIEHS and NTP, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services,;jsessionid=A5B54007B66F7D4DC1388B53848478B9?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1205179

[excerpt] “Making connections between the exposome and risk assessment is a difficult but important venture (Paustenbach and Galbraith 2006; Rappaport and Smith 2010).

Risk assessments typically examine the effects of high doses of administered chemicals to determine the lowest observed adverse effect levels (LOAELs) and no observed adverse effect levels (NOAELs); reference doses, which are assumed safe for human exposure, are then calculated from these doses using a number of safety factors.

Thus, human exposures to thousands of environmental chemicals fall in the range of nonnegligible doses that are thought to be safe from a risk assessment perspective.

Yet the ever-increasing data from human biomonitoring and epidemiological studies suggests otherwise: Low internal doses of endocrine disruptors found in typical human populations have been linked to obesity (Carwile and Michels 2011), infertility (Meeker and Stapleton 2010), neurobehavioral disorders (Swan et al. 2010), and immune dysfunction (Miyashita et al. 2011), among others.

For several decades, environmental health scientists have been dedicated to addressing the “low-dose hypothesis,” which postulates that low doses of chemicals can have effects that would not necessarily be predicted from their effects at high doses. More than 10 years ago, a National Toxicology Program expert panel concluded that there was evidence for low-dose effects for a select number of well-studied endocrine disruptors (Melnick et al. 2002).

Now, a diverse group of scientists has reexamined this large body of literature, finding examples of low-dose effects for dozens of chemicals across a range of chemical classes, including industrial chemicals, plastic components and plasticizers, pesticides, phytoestrogens, preservatives, surfactants and detergents, flame retardants, and sunblock, among others (Vandenberg et al. 2012)….


One response to “How Authorities try to Convince us that Pesticides are ‘safe’

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