They Are Biocides, Not Pesticides

They Are Biocides, Not Pesticides — And They Are Creating an Ecocide
By Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director, Center for Food Safety

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post, May 4, 2015.

“A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a song bird.” As a long time environmental lawyer and campaigner, I should not have been stunned by that fact but I was. Shaking my head in dismay, I read on, “Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the …neonicotinoid… can fatally poison a bird.”

The report is from the American Bird Conservancy and the neonicotinoids referred to are a relatively new class of insecticides that have become the most commonly used in the world, with several hundred products approved for use in the U.S. These “neonics” are neurotoxins that paralyze and eventually kill their victim. My organization, Center for Food Safety, has been working hard to halt the use of these neonics through litigation, legislation, grassroots advocacy, and legal petitions to the Environmental Protection Agency. We are suing to address the well-publicized threat that neonics present to the survival of honey bees and wild bees. At the time we launched our legal actions, I did not even know about the song birds.

The anger-stirring realization that a song bird could be felled by a single seed and the prospect of bees being silenced forever brought me back to the words of Rachel Carson, written more than half a century ago in Silent Spring. “These… non selective chemicals have the power to kill every insect, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ to still the songs of the birds and the leaping fish… they should not be called insecticides but biocides.” Through Carson’s crusade, biocides like DDT were eventually banned but new chemicals like neonicotinoids and other similar “systemic” insecticides/biocides have taken their place causing similar ecological havoc. Sadly, our regulatory agencies under the sway of the agrochemical industry have enabled this tragic and continuing environmental destruction.

I think it is long past due that we who work in the food and environmental movement adopt Carson’s nomenclature. Let’s not refer to pesticides, whether they are insecticides, herbicides or fungicides, by anything but their real name: biocides. Words do matter.

The “cide” ending in all these terms comes from the Latin caedare meaning “to kill.” Given that these chemicals are designed to kill that root word is accurate. But using the word pest-icide gives the impression that all these chemicals do is kill “pests,” whether insects, plant, or fungi pests. The neonicotinoids killing bees and song birds puts that delusion to rest. The bee is an insect but not a pest and the song bird is neither an insect nor a pest.

But Carson only referred to insecticides as biocides. Is it fair to put all pesticides, including herbicides and fungicides, in the same pejorative etymological category? Well, let’s look at Monsanto’s Roundup. It is the most widely used herbicide in the world because of the adoption of genetically engineered (GE) crops designed to tolerate the chemical. Is Roundup just a pesticide, a careful killer of just those “bad” plants called weeds that farmers wish to remove? Of course not. Roundup does so much more than kill plant pests. It wipes out beneficial plants of all sorts: food crops, fruits in the orchard, flowers in the garden, in fact anything that is green. Most of these are not pests or weeds. Among the beneficial plants it destroys is milkweed, on which monarch butterflies depend. The massive use of Roundup in the U.S. has destroyed so much milkweed that monarch butterflies are now at risk of extinction. Monarch butterflies are not pests or weeds.

Then there were the University of Pittsburgh researchers who a decade ago tested how Roundup might impact immature and mature frogs in ponds. This is how the researchers summarized their results: “The most striking result from the experiments was that a chemical designed to kill plants killed 98 percent of tad poles within three weeks and 79 percent of all frogs within one day.” That is very effective killing indeed, but of course frogs are not pests or weeds.Argentinian researchers using animal models then linked Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate to cranial malformations and other birth defects long reported in the children of farm workers who were repeatedly exposed to the chemical. Infants are not pests or weeds. And then in March 2015, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) cancer authorities — the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” based on multiple lines of evidence: kidney, pancreatic and other tumors in glyphosate-treated test animals; epidemiology studies showing higher rates of cancer in farmers that used glyphosate; and research showing that glyphosate damages chromosomes, one mechanism by which cancer is induced.

So Roundup is a butterfly killer, a frog killer and potentially an infant and adult human killer. And it has numerous other untold victims, to be sure. None of these are pests or weeds. So let’s not continue to use misleading euphemisms. Roundup is not a pesticide or herbicide; it is a “biocide.”

And now to fungicides. Their use in agriculture in the U.S. has skyrocketed, almost doubling in the last seven years. Unfortunately, research on their ecological and human health impacts has not kept up with the exponential growth in the use of these chemicals. But there is growing evidence that many of these toxics kill beneficial soil life, disrupting essential soil ecosystems. They are also increasingly becoming a water pollution problem, threatening aquatic life. Research has also pointed to concerning synergistic effects when used in tandem with other pesticides – delivering an even more toxic cocktail to bees and other beneficial insects exposed to the chemicals. Past studies indicate that 90 percent of fungicides are carcinogenic in animal models. To add insult to injury, they are also suspected of increasing obesity, especially in children. These health impacts remind us of yet another Carson insight: “Man is a part of nature and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”

Overall, let’s contemplate what these biocides are bringing us: vast areas of this country stripped of all vegetation save for monocultured GE crops, devoid of flowers, bees, butterflies and song birds, with contaminated rivers and streams with little or no insect life, and fish and frogs and other aquatic life dead or deformed. Then there are the birth defects and cancers in our own children. What is the word that would encompass the result of our usingnearly a billion pounds of biocides each year? I would suggest it is nothing short of ecocide.


Meat Causes Cancer, Says World Health Organization

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WHO says meat causes cancer

After significant investigation of more than 40 years of research, the World Health Organization’s research team has classified meat as carcinogenic. This includes both red meat and processed meat, though processed meat was classified as a more certain risk. The research was published in the British Medical Association’s journal, Lancet.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) investigated volumes of research on both processed meats and red meats. The IARC announced they found the prevailing research was strong enough to classify processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen – the most certain classification. This means that the research was strong enough to identify processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans.”

This puts processed meat in the same category given to tobacco and asbestos.

According to the WHO, this classification comes as a result of a series of studies that show that processed meats cause cancer. These studies include large-scale human population studies as well as clinical studies.

11 Nutritious Benefits of Eating Broccoli

Broccoli is one of those staple vegetables we were force-fed as children but continue to eat as adults. While those little trees aren’t much to look at, they pack a big punch of nutritional benefits.

To inspire you to get a forkful of the bushy vegetable into your mouth, here are 11 ways broccoli can boost your health!

1. Provides a Great Source of Fiber

When our parents told us to eat our vegetables, they kind of had a point!

With 2.6 grams of fiber per cup, broccoli is a great source of fiber whether you eat it raw, cook it, steam it, or add it into a casserole. Fiber can help aid your digestive system. This will keep your system regular and free of bathroom issues, which we’d all like to avoid. Steamed broccoli can bind together with bile acids in your digestive tract, making it easier to relieve yourself.

Additionally, a high-fiber diet has many benefits beyond the bathroom. A high-fiber diet has been shown to help reduce your risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart disease!

2. Helps Lower Cholesterol

Broccoli’s amount of fiber may be great for our bowel movements, but it can be celebrated for more than that. Because broccoli is an invaluable source of soluble fiber, the vegetable can help lower cholesterol, especially when prepared by steaming it.

3. May Reduce Allergies

Broccoli won’t stop you from contracting the common cold, but it can potentially stop you from sneezing fits due to allergies.

One study found that broccoli, which is rich in sulforaphane, could decrease people’s nasal allergic responses to diesel exhaust particles. The superfood may not totally erase your allergies, but it can potentially diminish their effects. That means you’ll sneeze less and need to carry fewer tissues.

4. Helps Prevent Cancer

Eating a high volume of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli has been associated with a lower risk of lung and colon cancer, which are two reasons you should be adding broccoli to your dinner a few times a week. Sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound that gives broccoli its bitter taste, is largely credited for the vegetable’s ability to fight the disease.

Studies show that women who ate more than five servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a lower risk of lung cancer. Research has also found that women who eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer.

Another study showed a link between consuming cruciferous vegetables and a lower risk of breast cancer. While the research speaks for itself, more studies are needed to establish a concrete link between a lower cancer risk and broccoli consumption — as the results may also be due to a total increase in fiber.

5. Contributes to Healthy Bone Density

Broccoli has a considerable amount of calcium, which, when consumed, can contribute to a healthier bone density and even potentially prevent osteoporosis.

A low bone density can cause your bones to become weak, which allows bone breaks to happen more easily. One cup of broccoli also contains over 100 percent of your daily need of vitamin K, which can improve your bone strength.

6. Can Improve Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem, even in highly developed nations like the United States.

Although broccoli doesn’t contain a high amount of vitamin D itself, it can help offset the effects of taking large supplemental doses of vitamin D. Broccoli’s unusually strong combination of both vitamin A and vitamin K can help keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance. So if you’re taking any vitamin D supplements, be sure to add broccoli to your diet.

7. Better Digestion
Broccoli’s high concentration of natural fiber enables the vegetable to help prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. The high fiber content is also helpful for promoting regularity in the digestive system, which is important because it allows toxins to depart the body via your stool.

8. Can Help You Look Younger
If you’ve noticed that the elements of the outdoors, and just life in general, have been taking a toll on your skin, you might want to consider adding more broccoli to your diet.

Broccoli contains many antioxidants, including vitamin C. When eaten in its natural form (as in, from a fruit or vegetable rather than from a supplement), vitamin C can help fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. It can also fight against wrinkles and help improve your overall skin texture.

9. Can Reduce Inflammation
Since broccoli is a rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, it can reduce any allergy-related inflammation. The green-topped tree also has a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful in preventing inflammation.

10. Boosts Heart Health
Not only can broccoli reduce your cholesterol, it can aid your heart health by promoting blood vessel strength.

Sulforaphane, found in broccoli, can also help prevent or reverse damage to your blood vessel lining. One study found that broccoli’s vitamin B complex content can help regulate, or even reverse, excessive homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that typically builds up in your body after eating red meat, and is a marker for inflammation. Since homocysteine can increase your chances of developing coronary artery disease, adding broccoli to your diet could prevent your heart health from failing.

11. It’s Delicious!
As far as vegetables go, broccoli is quite tasty and can be cooked and consumed in a variety of ways. Whether you eat it raw over a salad, or steam it and include it as a side to your main dish, broccoli is a tasty contribution that also contributes to your overall health. Add some broccoli to your breakfast omelette, or add it as a side to your next dinner.

Erin Kelly



The Best Thing You Can Do for the Planet

How is it possible that the drastic spike in human population is not the biggest problem for the environment? Human population has increased, that’s true, but animal agriculture has exploded. There are now 70 billion farmed animals on this planet.

This clip from the documentary Cowspiracy explores human consumption and animal consumption to determine their impact on resources. While the seven billion humans on earth do consume large quantities of food and water, cows alone (1.5 billion) drink over eight times more water and eat over six times more food. This massive quantity of resources are used just so that humans can eat meat from cows.

Environmental organizations not addressing this is like health organizations trying to stop lung cancer without addressing cigarette smoking.

Transitioning to a plant-based diet doesn’t just benefit personal health, it also vastly improves the state of the planet and the people living on it.


Julia Helms is an editorial intern at Forks Over Knives. She is a student at New York University earning her degree in Global Public Health and Communications. After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she transferred from the Fashion Institute of Technology to NYU to pursue a career in public health, concentrating on plant-based nutrition as a proactive form of disease prevention.

Calories per Pound

Look at the following chart. Plant based foods are all 500 Calories a pound or less. Animal based foods are all 1000 calories per pound or greater. So those who eat more plant based foods are lighter while those who eat more animal based foods are heavier.

Plant fats (oil) and animal fat (saturated) are both at the highest levels of caloric content so avoid both to stay or get slim.

For those who are interested, wine fits in at a cool 400 calories per pound. (3 x 5 ounce drinks)

Calories per Pound

How to Treat Prediabetes with Diet

Lifestyle Medicine Is the Standard of Care for Prediabetes
Nutritional Facts

For people with prediabetes, lifestyle modification is considered “the cornerstone of diabetes prevention.” Diet-wise, this means individuals with prediabetes or diabetes should aim to reduce their intake of excess calories, saturated fat, and trans fat. Too many of us consume a diet with too many solid fats and added sugars. Thankfully the latest dietary guidelines aim to shift consumption towards more plant-based foods.

Lifestyle modification is now the foundation of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology guidelines, the European Diabetes Association guidelines, and the official standards of care for the American Diabetes Association. Dietary strategies include reducing intake of fat and increasing intake of fiber (meaning unrefined plant foods, including whole grains).

The recommendation to consume more whole grains is based on research showing that eating lots of whole grains is associated with reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. New research even suggests that whole grains may protect against prediabetes in the first place.

According to the American Diabetes Association’s official standards of care (which you can see in my video Lifestyle Medicine Is the Standard of Care for Prediabetes), dietary recommendations should focus on reducing saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat intake (meat, dairy, eggs and junk food). Recommendations should also focus on increasing omega 3’s, soluble fiber and phytosterols, all three of which can be found together in flax seeds; an efficient, but still uncommon, intervention for prediabetes. In one study, about two tablespoons of ground flax seed a day decreased insulin resistance (the hallmark of the disease).

If the standards of care for all the major diabetes groups say that lifestyle is the preferred treatment for prediabetes because it’s safe and highly effective, why don’t more doctors do it? Unfortunately, the opportunity to treat this disease naturally is often unrecognized. Only about one in three patients report ever being told about diet or exercise. Possible reasons for not counseling patients include lack of reimbursement, lack of resources, lack of time, and lack of skill.

It may be because doctors aren’t getting paid to do it. Why haven’t reimbursement policies been modified? One crucial reason may be a failure of leadership in the medical profession and medical education to recognize and respond to the changing nature of disease patterns.

“The inadequacy of clinical education is a consequence of the failure of health care and medical education to adapt to the great transformation of disease from acute to chronic. Chronic disease is now the principal cause of disability, consuming three quarters of our sickness-care system. Why has there been little academic response to the rising prevalence of chronic disease?”

How far behind the times is the medical profession? A report by the Institute of Medicine on medical training concluded that the fundamental approach to medical education “has not changed since 1910.”

Dr Greger