Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pesticides and Cancer

An ongoing issue in London, Ontario (where I work) has been the continued attempts by strident activists to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides, particularly by commercial lawn landscapers. This is advocated on the basis that there is compelling science "linking" pesticides to cancer and that on public health and environmental grounds, pesticides should be banned. In this advocacy, local groups are following in a long tradition of urban environmental activists seeking to ensure public health. That this issue persists is a direct reflection of the fact that most environmental activists act on beliefs founded more in dogma than real science. The key to all environmental health studies is that the dose makes the poison. Anything taken in isolation and sufficient quantity can be shown to be detrimental to one's health, or that of a lab rat: even supposed healthy and organic substances.

The unfortunate consequence of the developed world's obsessive fear of all things chemical, is that it is having severe real-world health repercussions in the third world, particularly Africa and the continued scourge of malaria there. That environmental activists prefer to advocate banning safe lawn pesticides to tackling malaria in Africa represents what Paul Driessen refers to as eco-imperialism.