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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2007



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CHEMICAL TERRORISM?
by Mow&Sow;

a local, West Marin non-profit, based in Marshall
From Marshall, this is the beginning of our new campaign against the mostly invisible threat of synthetic pesticides. Our goal is Pesticide-Free Marin County. The idea of an organic Marin means just that - using viable alternatives instead of synthetic poisons, using the cleanest possible methods instead of adding to the chemical load we all carry as modern-day humans.
It's easy to be unaware of the cocktail of chemicals (500 per day is average) with which we come into contact every day, even here in West Marin. It is a mind-boggling array, with interactions that nobody has researched. Who knows, for example, how the chemicals in your toothpaste will react with the ingredients in your shampoo or the sulfites in your wine? At some point we have to take our chances, but when it comes to substances that are known to be toxic to us and Nature, we all need to be reminded that the quick and easy method is not always the best. It may be inconvenient to have to pull weeds rather than spray them, but a little inconvenience may be our salvation.

Something to be considered is the huge amount of money spent on the search for cancer cures compared with the amount spent on testing of pesticides and household chemicals. Then consider the possibility that epidemics might be good for the drug and chemical business and ask yourself whether it is possible that corporate funding of toxicity research might influence its results.


From the Sacramento Bee, June 6, 2004: A "who's who" of international companies fund work at UC Davis. They include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Bayer. Some grants pay for specific research, but many arrive with no official strings attached. More than 20 UC Davis professors have earned outside income providing advice to biotechnology companies, a practice known as consulting. Often, those financial ties are not disclosed in academic articles and public forums.


"Designer poisons' is the term used for pesticide products sold over the counter for indoor, outdoor, pet and personal use. It also refers to the commercial use of pesticides applied by professional pest control operators, often for cosmetic and non-essential reasons. Here are some national statistics:


* 73% of households use pesticides annually and spend $1.2 billion on 71 million pounds of products.

* 20% of households use pest control companies each year.

* There are 350,000 'certified commercial applicators in the non-agricultural sector

* The US EPA essentially ignores chronic toxicity testing (testing for cancer, reproductive and genetic damage) in the regulation of over-the-counter pesticides.

* Nearly all designer poisons are well over 50% 'inert' ingredients, which are not listed on the label and are not required to be tested, although they may be even more toxic than the active component.


More locally, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation figures for 2005 show that Marin County used almost 30 tons of pesticides. In comparison with surrounding counties, Marin is less chemically dependent, but aerial and hand spraying of restricted pesticides continues even in our 'organic' West Marin. The most insidious use of toxics is in the over-the-counter pesticides, because there are no permits required to "touch-up" your roses or to chemically weed your flowerbeds with products like the ubiquitous RoundUp. Homeowners may not even know when their gardeners and landscapers are using these toxics, and when you can't see or smell the poisons, they are easy to ignore.

We recommend a book by Dr. Marion Moses, founder of the Pesticide Education Center and who wrote "Designer Poisons: How to Protect Your Health and Home from Toxic Substances. Dr. Moses, by invitation of Mow&Sow;, will be speaking to the Vedanta Society, local concerned activists and the Marin County Agricultural Commissioner, Stacy Carlsen at a meeting on alternatives to the 2,4-D and other pesticides used at Vedanta's Olema Retreat.





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