Talks Report: "How the Environment Affects Our Health"
I recently gave a presentation to the Stourbridge Natural Health Group on "How
the Environment Affects our Health".
The talk was well received by those in attendance, although attendance was low
- apparently because for the previous presentation to this group the speaker
(non FOE) failed to turn up.
The subject of health was a new one for me to talk about so I had to do a fair
bit of research. The two main sources of information used were the FOE "chemicals
in the home" campaign information pack and an extensive article in the Guardian
entitled "Toxic Shock", which was of particular interest. It covered a full six
pages of the Guardian Weekend magazine last October where the reporter had investigated
the latest government report on pesticide residues in the food we eat. The results
of this report, a government one at that, are quite frightening.
To quote the Guardian: "a third of the food we eat containing them, pesticide
residues have become a routine ingredient in our diet". "Foods such as carrots
have unexpectedly high traces of acutely toxic organophosphates". "Pears tested
that have enough illegal growth regulator to cause a mild stomach upset in toddlers".
In 2000, "67% of the grapes, 72% of the apples and 71% of the pears we ate contain
residues. At least 40% of all fresh fruit and vegetables we eat contains residues".
Many of these pesticides are carcinogenic, hormone disruptive, bioaccummulative,
affect the immune system and may have a "cocktail effect". Organophosphates are
"highly toxic chemicals originally developed as nerve gases by Nazis".
The article criticises the UK for having "one of the weakest testing regimes in
Europe" in terms of lack of resource, low testing and accepting too readily the
Worried? I am, I'm now buying far more locally produced organic food myself. If
nothing else this presentation enabled me to plug the FOE "Real Food and Farming" campaign
which stands for:
* stopping GM crops being planted in the UK until their safety and need are proven
* ending pesticide residues in our food
* ensuring a third of farmland becomes organic by 2010
* supporting local producers and markets
* giving a fair deal for farmers who safeguard our future
* saving food and farming from unfair global trade rules
Talks have also been given recently to a People & Planet group, several schools
and a Young Quakers "Away Weekend". If you would like FOE to give a presentation
to your organisation please phone FOE or me directly on 01562 710236.