This study reports some remarkable numbers quantifying the economic impact of exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Pesticides cause the second largest impact — some $44 billion — right behind flame retardants.
While worrisome enough, the huge increases now occurring in herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide use on farms growing the three major genetically engineered (GE, or GMO) crops (corn, soybeans, cotton) is bound to markedly increase exposures, reproductive problems, birth defects, and a host of life-long health problems. As the seminal study by Harvard Medical School’s David Bellinger from 2012 describes, organophophate pesticides were found to have the second highest impact on neurological development of children of all the environmental chemicals that were studied (Bellinger et al, 2012).
Hopefully sooner rather than later, the agricultural commodity groups and farmers will rediscover prevention-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and start to reduce their dependence on pesticides and transgenic traits in the annual battle against pests.
Instead, if they try to spray their way out of the corner they have been backed into, both use and exposures will rise further, including risks stemming from a number of older, higher-risk herbicides that are being brought back into widespread use in the hope of dealing with the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
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Brian Bienkowski, “Toxic economy: Common chemicals cost US billions every year,” October 17, 2016, Environmental Health News.
Bellinger et al, “A Strategy for Comparing the Contributions of Environmental Chemicals and Other Risk Factors to Neurodevelopment of Children,” April 2012, Environmental Health Perspectives, 120:4.