From the Presidents Cancer Panel’s Report of 2009:
- “Approximately 40 chemicals classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as known, probable, or possible human carcinogens, are used in EPA-registered pesticides now on the market.*
- Many of the inert ingredients in pesticides also are toxic, but are not required to be tested for causing chronic diseases such as cancer. For example, xylene is used as the inert ingredient in almost 900 pesticides,* and has been associated with increased risk of brain tumors, rectal cancer, and leukemia.” [i]
“…we have companies that are formulating products in the United States that are different from those in Europe because there is no regulation [in the United States] requiring the more stringent standards.” Jeanne Rizzo, Breast Cancer Fund
RECOMMENDATIONS from the President’s Cancer Panel:
- Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues.
“…I hope that especially with hormonally dependent cancers we really start to look at endocrine disrupters in the environment as important chemicals that may contribute to both the rising incidence, as well as the mortality from these cancers. I hope we can get past this concept of low-dose effects because they’re not really low doses if you’re an endocrinologist.” Tyrone Hayes, University of California, Berkeley
- Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications if it is available.
“Agricultural policy in this country has also encouraged the extensive use of fertilizers and that has resulted in the problems that we’ve seen with contamination of water supplies, which in addition to the concerns about human ingestion of nitrates, has large ecologic effects related to eutrophication [overgrowth of plant life and loss of oxygen in water].” Mary Ward, National Cancer Institute
- Avoiding or minimizing consumption of processed, charred, and well-done meats will reduce exposure to carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
“…when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not yet fully established scientifically… we don’t need to wait until every single scientific question has been answered before we take action. ” Heather Logan, Canadian Cancer Society
- PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE: A precautionary, prevention-oriented approach should replace current reactionary approaches to environmental contaminants in which human harm must be proven before action is taken to reduce or eliminate exposure. Though not applicable in every instance, this approach should be the cornerstone of a new national cancer prevention strategy that emphasizes primary prevention, redirects accordingly both research and policy agendas, and sets tangible goals for reducing or eliminating toxic environmental exposures implicated in cancer causation.
“I believe it is time for a new human experiment. The old experiment…is that we have sprayed pesticides which are inherent poisons…throughout our shared environment. They are now in amniotic fluid. They’re in our blood. They’re in our urine. They’re in our exhaled breath. They are in mothers’ milk….What is the burden of cancer that we can attribute to this use of poisons in our agricultural system?…We won’t really know the answer until we do the other experiment, which is to take the poisons out of our food chain, embrace a different kind of agriculture, and see what happens.” SANDRA STEINGRABER, ITHACA COLLEGE