American Council on Science and Health – Allan S. Felstot – Position Paper – 2011 07 00


In a press release world of communication, only the truly scary stories get told.



Pesticides & Health

Myths vs. Realities


A Position Paper of the
American Council
on Science and Health

Professor Allan S. Felsot

Washington State University

Excerpts  ―


●   ATRAZINE, CHLORPYRIFOS, PYRETHROIDS, AND GLYPHOSATE  ―  Following explications of toxicological mechanisms of selectivity and the importance of considering pharmacokinetic factors influencing pesticide disposition within the body, this report specifically examines the claims about four types of contemporary pesticides  —  atrazine, chlorpyrifos, pyrethroids, and glyphosate.  In each case study, the published scholarly literature is used to show that the PERCEPTION OF ADVERSE EFFECTS has arisen as a result of mistaking  —  either through ignorance or ideology  —  laboratory studies of toxicological mechanisms for analysis of risk based on consideration of how the chemicals are actually used.

●   BENEFITS OF CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY  ―  Missing from much of the public debate are the benefits of chemical technology, especially as applied to crop protection.  Negative critiques of modern agriculture are vaguely familiar as echoes of complaints nearly 40 years ago, just prior to the suspension by EPA of DDT use for agriculture.  The report herein did not engage in trying to defend old chemical technology because agriculture has moved far beyond it.  Crop protection specialists themselves began long ago to argue for the judicious use of crop protection agents.  Industry long ago began to examine the problems of the most persistent chemicals with broad spectrums of toxicity to non-target organisms and synthesize new compounds with less persistence, less toxicity, and greater selectivity for specific pests versus non-target organisms.  Furthermore, the amounts of new chemicals needed to control pests today are small fractions of what they were just 20 years ago.

●   CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY  ―  The point is, chemical technology has improved, and will continue to improve, human health, whether helping to make vegetables and fruits of high quality more abundant and cheaper or to preserve the health of individuals who can then help their society to progress.

●   DDT  ―  Finally, we in the United States TAKE FOR GRANTED our country’s lack of serious outbreaks of epidemic disease transmitted by insect vectors.  We ignore the fact of 300 MILLION NEW CASES OF MALARIA elsewhere each year and the devastating effects on an economy.  The list of vectored diseases is large, but we do not think about the important contributions of pesticide use to the protection of our public health.  Yet communities besieged by outbreaks of biting mosquitoes clamor for their communities to be treated with mosquito control insecticides, as long as it is done out of sight at night.  Studies have proven that bans of DDT in South America were correlated with increased incidences of malaria that plummeted when spraying of wall surfaces resumed.  If one doesn’t like DDT, one still cannot ignore the effectiveness of pyrethroid-treated bed nets to protect sleeping kids and their parents from feeding mosquitoes.  Indeed, such nets, which would cost us the equivalent of pennies, are expensive commodities to many in the world.

●   EVIDENCE  ―  However, scrutiny of the published literature has FAILED TO FIND EVIDENCE of a credible probability of adverse human health effects derived from the use of modern pesticides as occurs in the real world, not in the laboratory-generated environment.

●   FOCUSING ON THE PAST  ―  Unfortunately, public attitudes  —  fed by attention-seeking MEDIA SCARE STORIES  —  seem FOCUSED ON THE PAST and fail to see a comparatively rapid change in chemical technology and how it has been deployed.  Similarly, public attention is drawn to misinterpretations and half-analysis of stories of hazards. 

●   GLYPHOSATE  ―  In summary, pronouncements of adverse effects of glyphosate and its surfactant seem relegated solely to the laboratory; in the environment, exposure is just too low for any measurable effects.  Indeed, the European authors own studies show clear thresholds for an effect.  In other words, their studies show that, at some concentrations in the cell cultures, nothing happens.  Proclaiming that spray tank concentrations of glyphosate expose workers to hazardous levels of glyphosate and its surfactants DEFIES LOGIC in the light of actual exposure measurements and in vivo rodent studies. The interpretation of in vitro studies is realistic only when concentrations reflect levels likely to occur in blood and/or interstitial fluids.

●   ORGANIC AGRICULTURE  ―  Some advocates call for wholesale adoption of organic agriculture.  But if the calls are motivated by concerns about pesticide use, then disappointment will reign because USDA rules for certification of organic agriculture do allow pesticide use.  But it is a “pick your poison” choice of eschewing certain products in favor of others.  Ironically, some of the same active ingredients with known nervous system toxicity used by so-called conventional growers are also used by practitioners of organic agriculture.

●   PESTICIDE CONTROL STATUTES  ―  Controversy surrounding pesticide use at first glance would seem to date back to the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  However, this superficial analysis ignores the long history of pesticide control statutes such as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ( FFDCA 1938 ) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act ( FIFRA 1947 ).



ORIGINAL DOCUMENT from The NORAHG Library References  …

Please go to the following link  …


For more information, go to The Pesticide Truths Web-Site — The Wisdom of Elizabeth M. Whelan and American Council on Science and Health ( ACSH ) — Includes The NORAHG Library of Force Of Nature Reports & References ( link )