We’ve suspected this for a long time, but now it’s a fact: bee-killing insecticides are also harming humans! From 2006 to 2014, Japanese doctors documented a new cluster of symptoms reported by hundreds of rural Japanese people: patients suffering from recent memory loss, finger tremors, and combined symptoms of headache, general fatigue, palpitation/chest pain, abdominal pain, muscle pain, and cough. Center for Food Safety is concerned that rural Americans face similar risks.
“If this Japanese rural population is experiencing neurological symptoms from exposure to neonics, aren’t rural Americans also at risk in many areas,” wonders Peter T. Jenkins, consulting attorney with CFS. “Any involuntary poisoning with neurotoxins is reprehensible and must come to an end. These exposures are occurring mostly through eating and drinking, so the risks go far beyond farmworkers and other occupational exposures to every-day consumers in rural areas.”
Public health researchers later associated these symptoms with the level of exposure to agricultural neonicotinoid insecticides, used on fresh fruits, tea, rice, and a host of other human food crops. Urine sampling showed the level of symptoms correlated with the amount of neonicotinoid consumption.
Last week, the public health team composed of Japanese, American and African researchers published the alarming story of those patients. The patients lived in rural communities and were being exposed to agricultural chemicals mostly through ingestion of pesticide-contaminated food and also perhaps by blowing sprays and dusts in a heavily-farmed, densely-populated area. Residential, pet and other exposures may also have contributed. The people involved were not farmworkers and did not have unusually high occupational exposures.
Meanwhile because these systemics are so water soluble, the potential for water contamination is also high; although Japanese studies have not documented it, numerous U.S., Canadian, and Dutch studies have. These are compiled in the new Center for Food Safety report, Water Hazard – Aquatic Contamination by Neonicotinoid Insecticides in the United States. The safety of drinking water sources and threats from pesticide contamination needs further urgent research.
“The bee-killing class of neonicotinoid insecticides act neurotoxically. Human brains and nervous systems can be affected in some of the same ways as insects with high enough dosing, adds Jenkins. Prior neurotoxicity studies on the neonicotinoids have raised alarms, including within the European Food Safety Agency. But, those were mostly cell culture or rat studies. Now, well-supported evidence of illness in real people has emerged in the published scientific literature for the first time. Federal and State regulators must act to protect public health.”