Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Observations From the Back Row: 4-26-11

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“De Omnibus Dubitandum”

The Bolsheviks have discovered that truth does not matter so long as there is reiteration. They have no difficulty whatever in countering a fact by a lie which, if repeated often enough and loudly enough, becomes accepted by the people.
Winston Churchill, October 4, 1947

Anti-pesticide camps should be the ones accused of lower IQs Just in time for the 41st annual Earth Day last Friday, the news media went wild reporting on a trio of highly flawed studies published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a periodical now notorious for reporting on junk science research. In the main study, Brenda Eskenazi and her colleagues from the University of California-Berkeley conducted a birth-cohort study of 400 children, most of whom came from Latino farm worker families in agricultural communities in California. Researchers followed the children’s health — beginning with the mothers during pregnancy, whose urine they analyzed for dialkyl phosphate (DAP), a metabolite of organophosphate (OP) pesticides. IQ tests were performed when the children reached the age of seven.

My Take - I am happy to see the ACSH weigh in on this as much as they have, and while I am happy that the NPMA has addressed this issue to the benefit of our membership, their response fails to address the singularity of this issue. It is junk science and we need to say so! We need to challenge these people! If we all start doing that we won’t have so much horsepucky to deal with in the future. The correct response to fraudulent scares is to attack them with the facts. If they weren’t fraudulent then we need to embrace them. When they are fraudulent we need to challenge them with the utmost vigor.

It has been noted in articles that these particular researchers are “well-known anti-pesticide activists” expecting to “overwhelm the media with their message releasing all three studies at once”. Once again, we see the media being used as a tool to inflame anti-chemical passions. This isn’t an attack on the agricultural industry. This is an attack on chemicals across the board.

The underlying flaws to this study have been identified:

• Even accepting the study results at face value for the sake of argument, the test score deficiencies are insignificant. There is no meaningful developmental difference between a child who scores a 100 on an IQ test vs. one who scores a 101.4.

"• Childhood development is a complex, multifactorial phenomenon, which these researchers have magically reduced down to blood levels of pesticide metabolites. While most reasonable people would point to the children’s general plight in Lower Social-economia as the likely cause of whatever development issues they may have, Eskenazi, Perera and Wolff have conjured up a superficial statistical analyses to advance their personal financial and political agendas as well as the bureaucratic and political agenda of their funding agency, the anti-pesticide EPA.

• There is no known biological mechanism that explains how legal exposures to pesticides might lead to developmental problems. "
This whole business of IQ is another one of those ethereal "findings" from these studies that are conclusions in search of data. The first time I came across this was during the Litulis Kilgore days. Kilgore was operating an illegal pest control business using methyl parathion (MP), one of the most toxic liquid pesticides developed for exclusive use in agriculture. In sunlight it would breakdown within 24 to 48 hours. It was never meant to be used in homes or businesses.

These people have been followed by the Center for Disease Control for years. What did they find? They “think” that MP “may” have caused an IQ problem. Why only a maybe? Because the findings weren’t consistent! It appeared to be true in one group and not in another. There is a reason for that. It isn’t true. IQ is a complicated and subjective thing and trying to pin this on pesticides is another article of faith by the green movement. It was only a short time ago that they were claiming that piperonyl butoxide, a synergist mixed with pesticides also caused it. What pesticide will be responsible next month?

"ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan further points out that the study didn’t even postulate a potential mechanism of action of how pesticide exposure in utero might affect cognition later on. “Actually, there is no plausible biological hypothesis that could explain this association, but we do know that this journal has an environmental agenda that they stick to very closely."
Those who have been reading Green Notes and Paradigms and Demographics know that my underlying philosophy regarding everything we are told is that it should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality. The reality is that ,
"the average IQs rose throughout the 20th century. This did puzzle psychologists for a while and it seems likely that many aspects of modernization played some role. Nutrition improved in most places over that period and nutrition can account for about 5 IQ points.

Perinatal care improved (wider use of obstetricians etc.), thus avoiding damage to the fetal and newborn brain. But there is now fairly widespread agreement that improved test sophistication was the major factor. The 20th century saw a huge rise in the number of years that kids spent in the educational system and the educational system has generally featured a lot of testing. So good test-taking strategies were fostered and that helped with doing IQ tests too. But the rise in IQ scores now seems to have peaked in most Western countries so most of the barriers to people realizing their full genetic potential would now seem to have been removed and average levels of IQ should be fairly stable from now on.”

This higher tested IQ rate occurred in those countries with the most pesticide use. If their claims were valid we should have seen a drop of some kind, or at the very least the IQ scores would have remained the same.  Once more we find studies that are nothing more than conclusions in search of data. Merely saying that our industry does not use these products is inadequate. We are deliberately avoiding saying what needs to be said; this is junk science and we need to be addressing this with the media.

In the movie “A Man For All Seasons” Sir Thomas More was accused of being against the king’s divorce and remarriage because he remained silent on this issue. He stated in the trial that this was not evidence because in law “silence denotes agreement”. It does in the real world also.



"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax -
Of cabbages and kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."

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