Chemical killer: Pesticides damage heart

Chemical killer: Pesticides damage heart
Highlights

Pediatrician Carla Nelson remembers catching sight of the unusually pale newborn, then hearing an abnormal heartbeat through the stethoscope and thinking that something was terribly wrong.

Pediatrician Carla Nelson remembers catching sight of the unusually pale newborn, then hearing an abnormal heartbeat through the stethoscope and thinking that something was terribly wrong.

The baby was born minutes before with a severe heart malformation that would require complex surgery. What worried her as she waited for the ambulance plane to take the infant from Waimea, on the island of Kauai, to the main children’s hospital in Honolulu, on another Hawaiian island, was that it was the fourth one shehad seen in three years The Guardian said.
In all of Waimea, Hawaii, there have been at least nine in five years, she says, shaking her head. That’s more than 10 times the national rate, according to analysis by local doctors. Nelson, a Californian, and other local doctors find themselves in the eye of a storm swirling for the past three years around the Hawaiian archipelago over whether a major cash crop on four of the six main islands, corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides, is a source of prosperity, as the companies claim – or of birth defects and illnesses, as the doctors and many others suspect.
In Kauai, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont spray 17 times more pesticide per acre (mostly herbicides, along with insecticides and fungicides) than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland, according to the most detailed study of the sector, by the Center for Food Safety.
The companies are precisely testing the strain’s resistance to herbicides that kill other plants. About a fourth of the total are called Restricted Use Pesticides because of their harmfulness. Just in Kauai, 18 tonnes – mostly atrazine, paraquat (both banned in Europe) and chlorpyrifos – were applied in 2012. The World Health Organisation this year announced that glyphosate, sold as Roundup, the most common of the non-restricted herbicides, is “probably carcinogenic in humans”.
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