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Sacrificing Children: Pesticides in the Time of Oligarchy

Photo Source Andy Powell | CC BY 2.0

Oligarchy is bad for children’s health

All past civilizations protected children. It was self-evident that healthy children assured continuity, security and happiness.

However, machine-powered civilizations give the illusion corporations, oligarchies, and the government control everything. Children fade in this confused vision. The disproportional power of the few dehumanizes everything, including children.

Oligarchs control medicine, drugs, chemicals, farming and politics. If their products harm children, their lobbyists, scientists and politicians cover up the truth.

Delaney Clause 

In the United States, this oligarchic control has flooded the country with thousands of chemicals, most of them untested and potentially harmful to life. This fact angered Democratic Congressman James Delaney from New York. He found it intolerable that America in the 1950s was bathed in around 50,000 chemicals.

He convinced Congress to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals in food. He authored the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act — the Delaney Clause.

Suddenly, agribusiness, chemical, and drug industries faced a law that challenged their monopolies to do whatever pleased them with food. They set up roadblocks to the enforcement of the law. They purchased scientists to denounce the controversial law.

The General Accountability Office, the least partisan organization in the federal government, took up the Delaney Clause. The December 11, 1981 GAO report put the controversy in this light:

“The heart of the issue centers on Delaney’s “zero-risk” concept that no substance, in any amount, may be intentionally added to food if it has been shown to cause cancer.”

Science lipstick

The Reagan administration of the 1980s did not enforce the law. And the Clinton administration of the 1990s killed it. But Bill Clinton marshalled the power of science to cover up his shameful policy. He paid the National Academy of Science to prepare the ground.

The 1993 National Research Council report, Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, revealed the deadly connection between children, pesticides, and disease. But it did not name names or propose the banning of the pesticides making children sick. Instead, the report tried indirectly to sound the alarm by pointing to food as the source of disease and death among children.

With this report out, EPA issued its 1995 policy on evaluating “the risks to infants and children consistently and explicitly.”

However, EPA did no such thing, especially in its “regulation” of pesticides. By 1995, the consensus among industry and government was to get rid of the Delaney Clause.

Killing the only federal protection against cancer 

In 1996, the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, explained why:

“The Delaney Clause was designed to protect against… many [human] cancer types. It was based on the hypothesis held in the 1950s that human cancers are due to environmental chemicals. This is clearly not true for the great majority of cancers and therefore, the Delaney Clause… has not saved any lives, is obsolete, and should be eliminated.

In fact, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 where it deleted the Delaney Clause. This revised law is appealing in name only. It does practically nothing for food quality or the protection of children or adults. It’s a business as usual pesticides law.

The abolition of the Delaney Clause sparked a celebration at EPA. I remember watching bureaucrats from the White House, the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture and lobbyists drinking and shouting.

Boosting industry propaganda

This expression of contempt for the law had consequences. It convinced the industry that a lie, repeated often, becomes truth. The industry and its bought and sold academics had published “articles” and advertisements that the Delaney Clause had to go.

Undermining the protection of health ignored the philosophical and scientific importance of the only American law against the intentional contamination of food by cancer-causing substances.

This misstep led to Bill Clinton’s cosmetic measure of siding with children. His Executive Order of April 21, 1997 says:

“A growing body of scientific knowledge demonstrates that children may suffer disproportionately from environmental health risks and safety risks. These risks arise because: children’s neurological, immunological, digestive, and other bodily systems are still developing; children eat more food, drink more fluids, and breathe more air in proportion to their body weight than adults.”

Like the 1995 EPA policy on children, this Order, sound on science but poor in children protection, had no effect in diminishing the constant threat to children from eating conventional food and drinking water potentially contaminated by farm toxins.

The National Institutes of Health “awarded nearly $144 million in new grants to develop new tools and measures that can be used to investigate more effectively environmental exposures from the womb through later years in a child’s life.” This was an Obama administration measure of September 28, 2015.

What happened to this money? Any benefits for children?

Neglect for children continues. The Trump administration is probably shutting down EPA’s symbolic but toothless children’s health office.

This immoral policy is sacrificing children. Instead of harsh labor, children now face an invisible enemy.

Food is medicine

Michelle Perro, a pediatrician, and Vincanne Adams, professor of medical anthropology, University of California-San Francisco, authored What’s Making Our Children Sick? (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017) in which they denounced this invisible enemy.

They said: “we are seeing in clinics across the country chronically afflicted children
who suffer from being the unwitting participants in several decades of experimentation with agrochemically produced food. This is an epidemic-scale health crisis.”

Perro and Adams represent physicians and scientists who are breaking ranks with the agrobusiness-medical-pharmaceutical-government regulatory establishment. They are revealing an open secret that industrialized farming poisons food, which is causing “hard-to-diagnose, intractable, and often debilitating” diseases to children.

Our kids, they say, “are sick with chronic ailments today because of the cataclysm” of three things: We live in a “toxic environment” that makes the “foods we eat a source of disease.” Second, we confront obsolete ideas of “clinical care and disease causation.” And, third, physicians refuse to learn from “food-health science.”

Perro and Adams practice ethical medicine and science. They are right in advocating the banning of the genetic engineering of crops and pesticides, especially organophosphates causing neurological and brain damage.

Their book is full of insights on the diseases of children and how to treat most of those diseases with organic food. Yes, indeed, they are students of Hippocrates. Food is medicine.

Read this book. It will inspire you to become active in creating a world good for our children.

More articles by:

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of 6 books, including Poison Spring with Mckay Jenkings.

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