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One Very Small Step for Humankind

March 25, 2015 - I recall, back in the early 1970's, the constant stream of news stories telling Americans that virtually every new product recently developed contained something that caused cancer.  Honestly, it was hard to know what to do with the information.  I think because there were so many stories - several a week, it seemed like - there was also a lot of skepticism.  All these years later, I will confess we should have demanded that the products be pulled from the shelves.  We didn't, and now we pay the price with our own lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

I volunteer at the elementary school's library.  The librarian, incredibly competent and caring, is also the mother of two daughters.  Her younger child has had to be treated twice for leukemia.  The second go-round was caused by the first; yes, that's what I'm saying - the chemotherapy caused her to contract leukemia for a second time.  In all likelihood, chemicals in the environment gave it to her the first time.  Chemicals deliberately fed into her bloodstream to fight the cancer gave it to her the second time.  Miraculously, she is still with us and, for the time being, she is cancer free.  She will always be short, because the chemo has stunted her growth.  Never mind; she is bright and beautiful.

Now we are told by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), that glyphosate, a.k.a. Roundup, "probably causes cancer in human beings."  You know that Monsanto makes Roundup.  Other companies also make products containing glyphosate as the active ingredient.  Not quite so well known is that weeds have become Roundup-resistant; some farmers' fields contain weeds half of which - that's 50% - are resistant to Roundup.

Here's the part where, if you have any sense, you should be very scared: because of this resistance, more and more Roundup is being used.  Since 1996, more than 500 million pounds in addition to what was originally called for has been used in the United States.  In 2013, Monsanto requested and received approval from the EPA for increased tolerance levels IN HUMAN BEINGS for glyphosate.  In the case of Dow Chemical, super weeds will be targeted with seeds branded Enlist, which can tolerate the use of a glyphosate/2,4-D [Agent Orange] mixture.  To put it in simplest terms, there is no end in sight.

Too young to remember Agent Orange?  Allow me to explain.  Agent Orange was used on a spectacular scale as a defoliant during the Vietnam War.  Causing trees to lose their leaves ostensibly permitted the Air Force to more easily pick out and kill the Viet Cong, as North Vietnamese soldiers were called.  Decades later, men who had served in Vietnam began dying of cancers caused by the individual's exposure to Agent Orange.  Our neighbor in North Carolina died a hideously painful death from brain cancer caused by Agent Orange.

If it is not yet clear to you, then let's state it for the record: manufacturers of products containing glyphosate and 2,4-D don't give a rat's ass if you die of cancer.  They don't give a rat's ass if members of their own families die of cancer.  By that, I mean specifically their own children.  THEY DON'T CARE.  Do no expect them to care.  The only way they will care is if they cease to make obscene amounts of money by selling these products.  Join the Pesticide Action Network, and tell the EPA to stop working hand-in-hand with companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical.  And for the love of God, eat organic foods.

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