In our own backyards
July 22nd 2013, 17:29 | Bryan Hubbard
Recently, European scientists finally isolated the reason for the sudden, puzzling disappearance of entire colonies of bees. Although parasitic mites, deadly viruses and bacterial disease have been variously blamed for the phenomenon, study after study has now fingered the pesticides sprayed on garden plants and food crops, which affect the ability of bees to navigate and ultimately damages their DNA.
Although the EU has now banned the pesticide thought to be most responsible, this discovery begs the obvious question: if these chemicals are killing off the bees, what in God's name are they doing to us?
Despite mounting evidence that chemicals of all varieties are making many people ill (disorders like 'sick building syndrome' or 'multiple chemical sensitivity' come to mind), it's difficult to demonstrate a clear cause and effect between a particular chemical and actual physical damage. There is no way to determine, for instance, if a single chemical is disrupting hormones by, say, simply examining its molecular makeup. You have to subject it to a battery of tests that, by the way, have yet to be devised. There's also the sheer number of tests you'd have to carry out-on at least 80,000 chemicals, one by one.
An even greater problem concerns the effect of these substances in tandem. We now know that the combined effect of low levels of two or three pesticides found in most ordinary modern environments magnifies by up to 1,600 times the effect of any insecticide on its own.
The Environmental Research Foundation publishes Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly, named afterSilent Springauthor Rachel Carson and, in one issue (13 June 1996), the editors pondered the size of the task. "To test just the commonest 1,000 toxic chemicals in unique combinations of three would require at least 166 million different experiments (and this disregards the need to study varying doses)," they wrote.
"Even if each experiment took just one hour to complete and 100 laboratories worked round the clock seven days a week, testing all possible unique three-way combinations of 1,000 chemicals would still take over 180 years to complete."
Then there's the unimaginable effect of each chemical magnified 1,600 times multiplied by the 1,600-fold magnified effect of the 80,000 others. Or, to put it another way, as People Against Cancer's founder Frank Wiewel once did, "There just aren't enough zeros out there."
That staggering notion requires all of us to shout a little louder at chemical giants like Monsanto, particularly as they and the pharmaceutical industry increasingly control the information you're likely to get (see page 18 of August issue of WDDTY Magazine).
If you don't think there's such a thing as consumer power against these giants, read our cover story this month (page 24) about how one scientist from Argentina went public with overwhelming evidence that Monsanto's Roundup, considered the Darth Vader of pesticides, caused an epidemic of health effects. And then how a housewife in one small town mobilized her neighbourhood and ultimately won a court order banning the use of Roundup near their homes.
Besides kicking up a fuss, you can clean up your own back yard by checking out our list of safe ways to rid your garden of common pests (page 28 of August issue of WDDTY Magazine). And if you can't sit out there when the pollen count's high, find out about Dr Harald Gaier's secret homeopathic weapon to banish hay fever and other allergies forever (page 67 of August issue of WDDTY Magazine).
If you're venturing outside your garden to foreign and warmer shores this month, don't leave before you've read the second of our two-part series on travel vaccines (page 32 of the magazine). And have a look at the sunscreens we've managed to source, all free of of the usual nasties (page 72 of the magazine).
For those driving to their destinations with the family pet, our resident vet Paul Boland offers ways to keep your dog or cat calm during travel without sedatives (page 50 of the magazine).
And speaking of natural, you never need to consider breast implants if you follow exercise specialist Paul Chek's programme for boosting your bust naturally (page 38 of the magazine).
Read how Sotheby's chairman Henry Wyndham said 'going, going, gone' to his crippling back pain through the Bowen technique (page 56 of the magazine), and find out which alternatives work best for cystitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (page 44 of the magazine).
If music is the food of love, it's also the stuff of healing-everything from stroke to ADHD and dementia. But only certain kinds of music are life-enhancing, so take our simple muscle test to find your own pet sounds (page 60 of the magazine)