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​Good bugs, bad bugs, you know we have our share

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | August 15th, 2018

Sabrina Hornung - wet plate by Shane Balkowitsch

On August 14, The Bismarck Tribune reported that “A popular insecticide could be banned for agricultural use.” Popular as it may be I can think of a whole slew of adjectives that would be more appropriate like questionable, deadly, poisonous… after all it is a neurotoxic pesticide.

According to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/, neurotoxic pesticides kill off these pests by targeting their nervous system, but it’s not just limited to invertebrates. They’ve been known to have neurotoxic effects on mammals as well--including humans! According to an article in Popular Science chlorpyrifos came from “a class of chemicals first used to develop World War II nerve agents.” Call me crazy but by golly it sounds like something we shouldn’t be ingesting. In fact, it has been known to cause developmental issues, ADHD, low birth rates, and low IQs in small children. High levels of exposure can lead to respiratory paralysis, lung cancer, prostate cancer and death.

Introduced in 1965 by the Dow Chemical co. studies have been ongoing since the 70s. It was banned in 2000 for home use but according to panna.org an estimated 8 million pounds of the chemical is applied annually in the agricultural sector and it “has been registered for use in 100 countries for over 50 crops.” I guess that’s where the term popular comes in,“Bismarck Tribune,” I apologize and stand corrected. What’s popular isn’t always good, and what’s good isn’t always popular. Isn’t that how that old saying goes?

The federal court ruled that the EPA ban its use within 60 days or challenge the decision by petitioning the Supreme Court. In April 2017, the EPA ruled that an agricultural ban on the pesticide was not justified but it should also be noted that Dow contributed over $1 million to Trump’s inauguration events. Also according to Popular Science, “Dow Agrosciences also consistently spent at least $50,000 each quarter since 2016 to lobby on chlorpyrifos.”

Boy, if money doesn’t talk, it screams, doesn’t it?

The real question is what do we do? Seek out another poison? I’d suggest heading for the hills and live off the fat of the land or see how long we can hold our breath, but I can’t even keep a houseplant alive and I have poor lung capacity so none of these suggestions are remotely realistic for you or me. We can only hold our breath for so long as these chemicals are allowed to fill the air, water, and cover the food we eat. We are products of our environments. It’s unsettling to think about what we unknowingly ingest and how it affects our cognitive and physical abilities. In the long run, how will these chemicals affect our evolution or de-evolution as humans? This is coming from the girl that’s been known to joke about being six feet tall from swimming in field run off. Though my swimming in that ditch soon came to a halt when I saw my first three legged frog. Jokes aside…

This same chemical is used on golf courses, wood treatments, and on countless foods. If applied on a hot day it’s prone to dissipate and is more likely to contaminate the air. I’m not suggesting we break out our gas masks by any means but we’ll always be battling critters. How do we do that without affecting the good bugs (like our pollinators) and not do ourselves in at the same time?

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