A host of chemicals created for use in industrial and commercial processes are having unintended effects on populations.
The Guardian reports that a study of Inuit communities above the Arctic Circle in Russia, Greenland and Canada found twice as many girls as boys are being born.
The blame was placed on DDT, PCBs, and endocrine disrupters that enter a mother’s bloodstream and change her baby’s sex before birth.
The chemicals are used in electronics like televisions and generators. The chemicals are absorbed by seals, whales and polar bears at 1 million times the normal rate, and the animals are then consumed by the Inuit, scientists say.
In Chile, the most popular and widely-used pesticide is metamidofos, a fumigating chemical marketed by the Bayer Corp.
Designated as an “extremely dangerous” chemical by the World Health Organization, it’s responsible for many of the pesticide-related deaths and illnesses doctors report each year, and can even cause children downwind of the fumes to faint or vomit, according to the Santiago Times.
A move is afoot to ban the most toxic fumigants in Chile, and some farmers have turned to organic farming with the help of advocates.
But small and large farming operations worry that losing the most “effective” chemicals will diminish Chile’s productivity.
Agence France-Press reports that metamidofos has also made an appearance in Vietnam, where tests have found it in vegetables sold at most farmers markets
The chemical is banned there, as well as in Hong Kong South Korea and the United States.
Despite this, more farmers in Vietnam and China are using dangerous pesticides to boost productivity, while consumers are increasingly afraid to buy their products.
Those concerns were compounded by the recent discovery of formaldehyde in the traditional Vietnamese soup pho and a cancer-causing chemical in domestically-produced soy sauce.
The government has known of the problem since 2001 but did nothing to control it.
“Agro-chemicals take a toxic toll in rural Chile”
Santiago Times, September 7, 2007
“Man-made chemicals blamed as many more girls than boys are born in Arctic”
Guardian (U.K.), September 12, 2007
“Toxic soy sauce, chemical veggies — food scares hit Vietnam”
Agence France-Presse, September 11, 2007