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December, 2002

Insects' Revenge: World Population To Shrink
By Carol Sterritt

On November 11th, the environmental community in the Bay Area received a rare treat: that of a visit from noted scientist/researcher Warren Porter, Ph.D. Against a backdrop of incredible edibles at Larkspur's renowned restaurant Roxanne's", local activists heard Porter deliver a remarkable detailing of his knowledge of pesticides.

Knowing Warren as I do, I expected him to drop one or two bombshells during his evening talk. What I did not expect was the overwhelming nature of the problems that his research on pesticides would expose.

For example, his brother, Dick Porter, works for Allen Greenspan. One of his assigned jobs is to develop population models to use in creating a framework of the future world economy. Several years ago, he approached Warren with the news that data from various target points all across the globe indicated that levels of fertility were facing extreme declines. In fact, accumulated data suggested that within fifty years, most places on the Earth would have a negative birth rate. A huge drop in the world's population was thus expected. Did Warren know anything about this and would he care to comment?

Porter, whose most recent work on pesticides indicates that a mixture of weed-killing toxins, even at low doses, prevent mammalian fertilized eggs from attaching to the womb, was more than happy to reply. But his answer was not comforting.

"Dick, I think that the fifty year scenario in which you are framing the rise of this problem is simply overly optimistic."

Indeed, Porter opened his talk with a graphic cartoon of an adult male alligator searching for his gonads. The cartoon was not simply a humorous segue into science: it is unfortunately fact that all over the globe, reptilian and amphibian creatures are being born with deformities and anomalies previously unknown in such large numbers. Minuscule genitalia, hermaphroditic sexual organs, and shortened forelegs are all commonplace defects that researchers now attribute to pesticide use. Scientists also note that what happens today in the reptilian population foreshadows what will occur a generation or two hence in the human population.

Additionally, studies released in Porter's home state of Wisconsin show that high numbers of children are suffering from impairments requiring Special Education classes. In fact, the budget for Special Ed in the city of Madison WI outstrips the actual budget for teaching the Three R's in standard schools. Just what is going on?

Porter's answer to this is that many things in our environment are to blame. He introduced his audience to a chart that displayed the circulation patterns in four adult brains, before and after the adults took Ritalin. After taking the drug, the circulation to their brains was so minimal that Porter referred to the drug's action as a sort of biochemical lobotomy.

Is it any wonder that when Joe Keon introduced Porter to the audience, he related a scary anecdote: Stanford officials had discussed with him their need to "dumb down" that University's curricula in order to accommodate the lack of mental skills the new generation of college -bound students demonstrate.

Porter's work to date has included a peek into the pronounced impact that fertilizer and pesticide mixtures make upon the thyroid's workings. His team of researchers replicated the composition of springtime fertilizer and pesticide residues found in most drinking water across the country. They found effects on the endocrine system (thyroid hormone levels) and the immune system, and reduced body weight, from mixtures of low levels of aldicarb and nitrate, atrazine and nitrate, and atrazine, aldicarb and nitrate together. They observed increased aggression from exposure to atrazine and nitrate, and from atrazine, aldicarb and nitrate together. The laboratory rats used in this study became more aggressive as a result of the malfunctioning of their thyroids. The conclusion was that it was never a single chemical, but always the mixtures, that produced these effects.

In case this research seems a bit esoteric to you, let me point out one observable effect: the many school shootings in this country, with only one exception, follow a pattern: that of occurring during the exact time period when the fertilizer-pesticide mix is most prominent is those areas' drinking water due to spring chemical use in farm crops and yards. When the shooting occurred in a Southern state, the shootings took place in February or March. The Columbine late-April shootings reflect on the fact that Rocky Mountain States experience spring so late.

Among scary statements that Porter made is the following: of the 77,000 chemicals used in our modern day world, not a single one has been examined with regards to its effects on the endocrine and immune systems. EPA receives studies from laboratories on many manufactured products, but these studies are rarely on the actual product that you or I would buy at the market. Instead, these studies are done using a purer grade product, and are done without including a look at the reagents (needed to manufacture the product), and inerts that will later be added to the product to make it work. Thus, RoundUp, although constantly touted by its manufacturer, Monsanto, as safe, has some disturbing elements, elements that the EPA never considered when granting Monsanto its license. The Polyoxyethalineamine (POEA) in the glyphosate-based product knocks out the liver's protective enzyme P450. And there are also implications that RoundUp as it is sold to us knocks out the Glutathione-level in our bodies. (Glutathione is a marvelous anti-oxidant and potent intra-cellular detoxifier.)

What does Porter offer as a way to help stem the poisoning of our environment by these products? First of all, become educated about how easy it is to kill nasty critters with harmless materials. Vinegar will keep ants and wasps at bay. (I put saucers of vinegar out when entertaining company at the picnic table.) And spraying ants with dish soap and water does them in quickly.) Also, he advises that we consider donating money to those foundations that make available research funding for serious and independent studies of chemicals. Alternately, we should consider becoming members of Pesticide Action Network ((415) 981-1771, www.panna.org.)

Additionally, we should all serve as "Co-pilots"-those who are willing to speak up when the so-called experts (be they local gardeners or city park and rec crews) claim that a chemical is safe when we know otherwise.

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