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OT: Chemicals: some facts


From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

The following from the 1998 edition of G. Tyler Miller's ENVIRONMENTAL
SCIENCE, the leading text in the field:

pp. 426-428:

"Although the use of synthetic pesticides has increased 33-fold since 1942,
it is estimated that today more of the US food supply is lost to pests
(37%) than in the 1940s (31%).  Losses attributed to insects almost doubled
(7 to 13%) despite a tenfold increase in the use of synthetic pesticides"

"The estimated environmental, social and health costs of pesticide use in
the United States range from $4 billion to $10 billion per year.  The
International Food Policy Research Institute puts the estimate much higher,
at $100-200 billion per year, or $5-10 in damages for every dollar spent on
pesticides."

"A 50% cut in US pesticide use would cause retail food prices to rise by
only about 0.2%, but would raise average income for farmers about 9%."

"Over the past few years, Sweden has cut pesticide use in half with
virtually no decrease in the harvest."

"Campbell Soup uses no pesticides on the tomatoes it grows in Mexico, and
yields have not dropped.  After a 65% cut in pesticide use on rice in
Indonesia, yields increased by 15%."

"Aircraft apply about 25% of the pesticides used on US cropland, but only
about 0.1-2% of these insecticides actually reach the target pests.  To
compensate for the drift of pesticides from target to nontarget areas,
aircraft apply up to 30% more pesticides than ground-based application
does."

"In the United States, at least 300,000 farm workers suffer from
pesticide-related illnesses each year.  At least 30,000 of these poisonings
are acute,and typically 25 farm workers die every year from such
poisonings. Every year about 20,000 Americans, mostly children,get sick
from home misuse or unsafe storage of pesticides."

"A 1995 study also found that children whose yards were treated with
pesticides (mostly herbicides) were four times more likely to suffer from
cancers of muscle and connective tissue as children whose yards were not
treated."

It goes on.  Makes provocative but deeply disturbing reading.

Please use pesticides, if you must, sparingly and responsibly.  Encourage
others to do the same, and speak out when mass applications are advocated
in your community.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
(804)223-6172
FAX (804)223-6374
email<bills@hsc.edu>

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