Some of the most damning evidence I’ve seen lately about the dangers of pesticide chemicals comes from Iran.
Of course, Iran has been in the news for other reasons this year as the Obama administration decided to open relations to the troubled country. It may be part of a very long-term, geo-political strategy to eventually shift a balance of power in the volatile Middle East toward the Shia faction of Islam (led by Iran) and away from the Sunni faction (whose radical factions include Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other unpleasant radical entities).
Ronald Reagan — during his two terms at President during the 1980s — wisely just let Iran and Iraq balance each other during their terrible 10-year war. As bad as the war was for people of these two countries, Reagan did not expend American blood or treasure in this conflict.
The worst thing that happened in the U.S. was the “Iran-Contra” episode in which his administration was accused of trading arms with Iran to supply the “Contra” freedom fighters trying to prevent the spread of Communism in Central America. While Congress would not authorize arming the Contras, Reagan harkened back to the Monroe Doctrine of another strong President.
Iran, of course, dates back to ancient Persia and Persepolis. And for thousands of years, it hosted a sophisticated civilization that transcends the relatively recent arrival of Islam in their ancient lands.
Because of their struggle during the 10-year Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, they now have a tremendous amount of experience with the human factors and medical consequences of exposure to toxic chemicals.
In fact, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Iranian Army, as well as against his own people. He also used the war as an excuse to gas and poison ethnic groups, including the Kurds, whom he suspected had weak loyalties. (Since we now know that Saddam Hussein did have and did use chemical weapons, including one of the infamous “weapons of mass destruction,” — it always amazes me that critics of the later Bush administration could disingenuously claim there were no such weapons in Iraq!)
Of course, I consider pesticides another form of toxic chemicals. By definition, they are used because of their ability to kill living organisms. And I believe one day our descendants will consider the use of pesticide chemicals on foods we grow just another great barbarism of the 20th century.
And I recently uncovered some research about the effects of pesticide chemicals by Drs. Mostafalou and Abdollahi of the Department of Toxicology and Pharmacology at Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Through the 1970s, my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, maintained an exchange program for faculty, researchers and students with them. I found they followed the highest standards of medical research, education and practice.
And what they have uncovered in regards to pesticides is no exception.
Terrifying links to practically every ailment known to man
These two researchers assembled a huge body of evidence on the relations between pesticide exposure and elevated rates of birth defects, reproductive disorders, and chronic diseases. Including many types of cancers, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders — such as Alzheimer’s dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and Parkinson’s disease. They also have some evidence on the association between pesticides and respiratory problems — especially asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, or emphysema). They even have evidence linking pesticides with cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even aging.
Did they leave anything out?
It reads like a diagnostic and statistical manual of every ailment known to man, including the mysterious chronic disease epidemics of the 21st century.
We know exactly how and why pesticides cause damage
Of course, there is no shortage of toxic mechanisms to explain how pesticides poison cellular metabolism. Their primary actions disrupt molecular ion channels, enzymes and receptors. Their secondary mechanisms poison cellular metabolism as well.
They also damage genes, disrupt the endocrine system, cause mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress, and disturb white blood cell functions.
Just more reasons than ever to buy organic produce — especially produce with soft skins such as strawberries, apples, peppers, and lettuces. You can probably still get away with non-organic foods for produce with a hard outer skin, such as avocado, banana and pineapple.