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Pesticides in Our Environment


My longtime friend Dr. Carl Clark of Regina often said, "Cancer is the worst word in the English language." A World War II air force veteran, he trained as an osteopath in Chicago in the 1930s when the notorious gangster Al Capone ran Chicago.

My longtime friend Dr. Carl Clark of Regina often said, "Cancer is the worst word in the English language." A World War II air force veteran, he trained as an osteopath in Chicago in the 1930s when the notorious gangster Al Capone ran Chicago. Dr Clark spent the war years adjusting the backs of service personnel at Christie Street Hospital in Toronto, and unfortunately, he died of cancer 25 years ago at the age of 70.

Since Dr Clark died, we have moved into the era of globalization. The power of the transnational corporation is getting stronger, and the rights of the individual are diminishing. Today, there is a war going on between certified organic farmers, environmentalists, people with health concerns and transnational companies over GMOs, pesticides and control of agriculture and the food supply.

But I still think cancer is the worst word in the English language.

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of breast and cervical cancers and the second highest prostate cancer rate in Canada. Cancer is certainly one of our few major growth industries in Saskatchewan.

The sale of agricultural pesticides is another. We in Saskatchewan use one-third of the pesticides used in Canada and I am completely convinced that pesticides cause cancer. Fortunately for me as a farmer, I enjoy free speech. I can say what I believe without persecution and it doesn't affect the price of my products. Unfortunately, very few people listen because I don't have a PhD. I never passed Grade 9 French, but I've had a lot of experience in the school of life.

I am going to introduce a term here that is rarely used: "academic fine tuning." It has been my experience that academics listen to other academics before they listen to farmers or other citizens. In view of the fact that most of the provincial NDP cabinet ministers are academics, they ignore my opinion and the opinion of other citizens. They wait for PhDs to tell them that pesticides cause cancer. So when are the PhDs going to speak out?

Research Funding

I think the directors and administrators of the transnational drug and chemical companies of today have graduated from the Al Capone school of population control. Capone had most of the Chicago police force on his payroll and was indeed an expert gangster.

Similarly, transnationals control the voice of the medical and agricultural communities here in a perfectly legal way. The government provides 50 per cent of research grants to universities. Transnational drug and chemical companies provide the other 50 per cent. Need I say more?

Organic farmers do not have enough money to provide the 50 per cent for organic research, so practically nothing is spent on organic research. Unfortunately, both taxpayers and organic farmers are contributing to the government's 50 per cent and not getting what they want.

Bodily Effects

Fortunately, some academics are speaking out about the cancer-pesticide connection. In the December 2001 edition of Acres USA, Arden B. Andersen, DO, PhD, said, "What the [pesticide] industry and the puppet government agencies are not telling the American public is that all independent scientific studies on genetically modified foods show that these foods suppress the immune system and increase cancer rates."

Liane Casten, author of Breast Cancer: Poison, Profits and Prevention, writes, "I am totally and completely aware of and convinced of the relationship between pesticides and cancer. A good portion of the pesticides used today are carcinogenic. All 2,4-D contains small amounts of dioxin."

Casten makes the following points: 1) Dioxin does not biodegrade. 2) It stores in the body fat of both humans and animals. 3) Dioxin is a known human carcinogen. 4) Dioxin is capable of breaking down the immune system. 5) It is capable of causing neurological responses. 6) It will affect the weakest member of your vital organs.

Casten goes on to write, "As long as the system puts profits ahead of public health there will be no change in the cancer rate. Money defines research and money defines distribution of chemicals and money defines ignorance of the pesticide-cancer connection."

Farmers in Saskatchewan have used 2,4-D since 1948 and are still using it.

Pesticide Testing

Here in Davidson, with a population of 1,150 serving an agricultural community of another 2,000, we had four cases of infant cancer diagnosed in the year prior to June 2001. We asked the provincial minister of health to investigate in July 2001. He set up a cancer cluster committee, but because all the infants had different kinds of cancer, the investigation stopped.

Shortly thereafter, our research foundation tested the water supplies for pesticides. We found that there are low levels of pesticides in the water. However, since there are no national standards for safe pesticide levels-just meaningless guidelines-our results are equally ambiguous.

We also know that our local water contains high levels of trihalomethanes, which are cancer-causing and are created by chlorine mixing with organic material in the water. In July 2001, the town received a report from the department of health stating that Davidson is one of 119 communities out of 520 in Saskatchewan that has excessively high levels of trihalomethanes.

Canadian citizens are spending billions of dollars on cancer research but practically nothing on prevention. We have attempted to get the provincial government involved in testing our air and food for pesticides, but so far, no action has been taken. It is obvious citizens will have to take action to clean up our environment since governments are not going to.



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Isabela Vera

Isabela Vera