REPORT WARNS ABOUT
PESTICIDES IN THANKSGIVING FOODS
In the production of poultry meat, including turkey, the EPA allows the use allows the use of atrazine, metolachlor, alachlor, and chlorpyrifos. Alachlor is listed by EPA as a probable human carcinogen, and atrazine, the most heavily used pesticide by U.S. agribusiness (73 million pounds per year), and metolachlor are classified as possible human carcinogens. Chlorpyrifos is knownto attack the central nervous system.
Cranberry sauce adds parathion, 2,4-D, and mancozeb to yourplate. Parathion, also a possible human carcinogen, is one of the most acutely toxic chemicals registered with the EPA; long term exposure is known to cause loss of concentration, irritability, memory problems and depression. The chemical 2,4 D, which wasonce used as a major component of Agent Orange, is listed by EPA as a probable human carcinogen, as well as a reproductive toxin. Mancozeb, known to cause cancer in animals, is also a probable human carcinogen, according to EPA.
Potato production uses 2,4 D, parathion, and metolachlor.
Many common Thanksgiving vegetables, including winter squash, tomatoes, carrots, corn, peas, and green beans, are grown using methyl bromide. The American Public Health Association has described this chemical as "one of the most toxic substancesknown to man." Methyl bromide is a reproductive toxin suspected of causing birth defects. It has also been found to cause muscle tremors, seizures, kidney damage, and nerve damage. In addition, substantial quantities of atrazine are used in the production of corn.
Pumpkin Pie can include not only parathion and methyl bromide,but also chlorothalonil, a probable human carcinogen, according to EPA, known to affect the kidney and bladder in experimental animals.
The amounts of pesticide "residue" that EPA allows to remain on food sold to the public are generally not based on health considerations.In addition, only 10 percent of pesticide ingredients in use today have been fully studied for their human health effects. Of those studies, virtually none have examined the very realistic hazards posed by exposure to combinations of chemicals.
"The fact that our food may contain dangerous pesticides in quantities that put our health at risk is frightening in itself," said Todd Robins. "But it's just unacceptable that agribusiness and the chemical industry is exposing families to toxic cocktails the health effects of which haven't even been studied," he said.
"Pesticides are toxic by design," Robins added. "But fortunately,there are safer alternatives. Consumers should protect their families'health by buying organically grown produced and organically raised meat whenever possible," he said.
U.S. PIRG also urges consumers to ask their grocers to post signs, provide warning labels or make available brochures warning buyers of the pesticide and herbicide chemicals that may be present on the meat and produce they purchase, and any possible health effects that could result from exposure to those chemicals.
"We have a right to know about the toxic chemicals in the food we feed our families," concluded Robins.
The PIRGs are statewide non-profit, non-partisan consumer and environmental advocacy organizations. U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the state PIRGs.
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