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Study seeks to curb impaired brain development of fetuses exposed to agricultural pesticides in the womb

Agricultural pesticides

(NaturalNews) Salinas Valley, California, known colloquially as "America's Salad Bowl" for providing our nation with 80 percent of its salad greens, is apparently a hotbed of pesticide pollution that many local farm workers believe is negatively affecting their families. And a long-range study known as "CHAMACOS," having also identified an association between agricultural pesticide exposure and conditions like behavioral disorders and birth defects, is actively engaging the local community in search of the best ways to protect unborn children in particular from this chemical exposure.

A recent piece by the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) uses the example of "Maria," a mother of three living in the Salinas Valley who has been around commercial growing fields for much of her life. Of her three children, two of them were born with health problems that included difficulty breathing, asthma attacks and severe behavioral problems. One child, a boy, also developed symptoms that were later diagnosed as Asperger's syndrome and hyperactivity.

With no family history of these or any other related health conditions, Maria began to suspect that chemicals like the ones being sprayed on the vineyards across the street from her house, for instance, might be affecting her children. Additionally, both Maria and her husband had worked a number of years in the fields themselves, regularly tracking around chemicals on their hands, clothing and shoes during the times around which their children were conceived.

Pesticides destroying children's brains, nervous systems

Could any of this have played a role in how Maria's children developed? A growing body of evidence seems to suggests so, as do Maria's own suspicions which have been vetted by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley. For at least the past 15 years, scientists from the school have been evaluating, analyzing and tracking the health of individuals like Maria and her family who are living in the Salinas Valley, which gets sprayed with upwards of 8 million pounds of pesticides annually.

According to FERN, the CHAMACOS study is not only tracking health cases that appear to have been chemically-induced but also devising ways to help the people they see avoid these chemicals in the first place. A rarity in modern science, the research team involved has made it a point to actively work in the community to mitigate chemical exposure as opposed to just evaluating it for the purpose of publishing the findings.

"It's one of the things I find most impressive about their work," stated Dan Shapiro, a professor at California State University, Monterey Bay and member of the CHAMACOS community advisory board, to FERN about the quality of the research. "They have a genuine interest in engaging, collaborating and serving the community rather than swooping in as disinterested researchers, collecting data and leaving."

Pesticide use in Salinas Valley up 1,600 percent since start of study

When the CHAMACOS study first began, only about 500,000 pounds of organophosphate insecticides were being sprayed on growing fields. Pesticide use has increased roughly 16-fold in the area since that time, partly due to decreased crop variety and fewer rotational crops, a direct consequence of increasing land values. And yet, even at its onset, the study revealed that the vast majority of mothers who chose to participate had detectable levels of organophosphate chemicals in their urine.

Numerous other studies initiated since that time have come to many of the same conclusions about the effects of this exposure, which include decreased IQ, cognitive abnormalities, hormone disruption, obesity and other serious health problems. And even children living in urban neighborhoods nowhere near the growing fields are being affected, as the chemical residues often persist on the foods shipped to the grocery store.

Be sure to read the full FERN report here:

Sources for this article include:




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