How many times will it take for the consumer to wake up? Back in May, I wrote a post about the generally dismal state of regulation in matters of food safety, which allows large producers all the slack in the world at the expense of the consumer. I wish I could say that the state of affairs had changed dramatically in the meantime, but the current recall of over half a billion eggs reveals that nothing has changed.
Now a new study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, links pesticide use with the rise in ADHD disorders among children. The study’s authors examined data on over 1,100 children, and determined that elevated levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine was associated with a diagnosis of ADHD. In fact, children with levels higher than the median of the most commonly detected metabolite (known as dimethyl thiophosphate), were twice as likely to be diagnosed as ADHD compared with children that had undetectable levels of the metabolite. The elevated risk factor remained even after controlling for confounding variables like gender, age, race/ethnicity, poverty/income ratio and others.
The pesticides studied belong to a class of compounds known as organophosphates. Time explains:
[Study author Maryse] Bouchard’s analysis is the first to home in on organophosphate pesticides as a potential contributor to ADHD in young children. But the author stresses that her study uncovers only an association, not a direct causal link between pesticide exposure and the developmental condition. There is evidence, however, that the mechanism of the link may be worth studying further: organophosphates are known to cause damage to the nerve connections in the brain — that’s how they kill agricultural pests, after all. The chemical works by disrupting a specific neurotransmitter, acetylcholinesterase, a defect that has been implicated in children diagnosed with ADHD. In animal models, exposure to the pesticides has resulted in hyperactivity and cognitive deficits as well.
“There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day as part of the President’s Food Safety Working Group to lower the danger of foodborne illness. The new standards announced today mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against Campylobacter,” announced Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Monday.
Under these new proposed regulations, 7.5% of the chicken at a processing plant may test positive for salmonella. In 2009, average salmonella levels were at 7.1%, so I guess these giant food conglomerates won’t have to stretch too hard to meet the proposed rule. I suppose it’s better than the 20% salmonella contamination that’s allowed under current regulations. But perhaps current regulations are not the best standard with which to judge the new rules, given that they don’t regulate campylobacter at all. Campylobacter causes diarrhea, cramping, fever, and there are no federal standards governing how much of it can be in your food. Under the proposed regulations, companies may not have more than 10% of their carcasses “highly-contaminated” by campylobacter, and no more than 46% may be contaminated at a “low-level.” I feel better, don’t you?
Check out this powerful video reminding you to use your seatbelt. Amazingly, 25% of people from Missouri (my home state) don’t use a seatbelt while driving. Nationwide, 17% of people don’t use their seatbelts.
Via The Daily Dish.
Remember the woman who was criticized for allowing her highly competent 9-year old boy find his way home on the Manhattan subway? Her name is Lenore Skenazy. She’s a syndicated columnist and she’s not retreating a single inch. She has created a website called Free Range Kids. In April, 2009, she published a book called Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry. Here’s how she sums up the widespread American problem:
Somehow, a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing. They have lost confidence in everything: Their neighborhood. Their kids. And their own ability to teach their children how to get by in the world.
We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. This site dedicated to sane parenting . . .
I started this site for anyone who thinks that kids need a little more freedom and would like to connect to people who feel the same way. We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence. Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned. So here’s to Free Range Kids, raised by Free Range Parents willing to take some heat. I hope this web site encourages us all to think outside the house.
This is a well-considered site with lots of ideas for tempering our paranoia about child abductions and sexual predators. Here are a few additional Free Range Children stories that I recommend from Lenore’s site:
The end of the Super-Mom Era.
How cell phones can stunt your children’s emotional growth.
Here’s a thoughtful and well-researched article on the safety of bicycling by Alan Durning of Grist. Here’s his bottom line: Biking is safer than it used to be. It’s safer than you might think. It does incur the risk of collision, but its other health benefits massively outweigh these risks. And it can be made […]
What happens when you forget to mention something important to your spouse? When you are running late or distracted, for any number of reasons? Bills get paid late because you forgot to ask him to mail them, Johnny misses soccer practice because you forgot to tell Dad he needed to be there by 5, nothing […]
According to this article in Discover, less can be more when it comes to road signs. The “risk compensation effect” is a recognition that animals “tend to adjust their behavior to compensate for perceived risk.” A team of urban planners has concluded that traffic signs and signals actually make the roads more dangerous “because they […]