Healthy Living Foundation

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A cancer-causing chemical is killing our honey bee populations Read more

Pesticides synergize toxic effects of pollution


Little as they know about tracing environmentally caused diseases, doctors and scientists are even more dumbfounded when it comes to determining the effects of cumulative low-level exposures to many different toxic chemicals. The government’s best scientists say they do not have the faintest idea how to test multiple chemicals in animal model systems. Experts know very little about how to test the effects of two chemicals together, let alone four, five, or ten.

When scientists have done studies on this chemical cocktail syndrome, it seems quite clear that they act synergistically. In one small 1976 study reported in the Journal of Food Science, a scientific team used three chemicals on a group of rats. The chemicals were tested one at a time on the rats without ill effect. When the scientists gave the rats two at a time, a decline in health was noted. When the rats were given all three chemicals at once, they all died within two weeks.

This is the kind of situation most of us face. We get several little bits of pesticides with our salad, different ones in our meat or fish, still others in the vegetables on the side, and a separate dose of additives and preservatives with dessert. Our wine has pesticides and for many of us our water, too. In addition our drinking water may contain solvents as well as lead. In a single meal we could easily consume residues of a dozen different neurotoxic or carcinogenic chemicals. Every meal, every drink of water, every day.

The EPA Office of Pesticide Programs does not even include all our potential exposures to the same pesticide when calculating permitted residue levels of a given compound on a single crop. The agency sets levels with “blinders” to the fact that people eat more than one product that has permitted residues of the same compound. EPA scientists have found that, at times, these residues, if totaled, exceeded 500 percent of the recommended daily intake.

We are told constantly that the level of a toxin in a certain food is “absolutely safe.” But how many “absolutely safe” doses does it take before it’s not safe anymore?