A Stanford University analysis of over 200 nutritional studies found little evidence that organic food is better for you than conventional food. But health is affected by more than vitamins and minerals; for example by the chemical chlorpyrifos, which was banned for indoor use but continues to be sprinkled on our food crops. In California’s Salinas Valley, which grows greens for the entire nation, children exposed to chlorpyrifos and other pesticides are, well, stupider. As Elizabeth Grossman writes on The Pump Handle, “the higher the exposure, the lower the IQ score.” Researchers observing effects within the brain noticed “thinning in some areas and abnormal enlargement in others.” But there are bigger issues than brain damage surrounding organic food and well-being. On Casaubon’s Book, Sharon Astyk writes “what we really need is an agriculture that isn’t saturated in fossil fuels. […] Small scale, sustainable, mostly organic may be the only way we can avoid starving the world.”
By gluing radio chips to the backs of 800 honeybees, researchers proved that Neonicotinoid pesticides interfere with their behavior. Greg Laden reports that bees exposed to the common aphid-killer “forage abnormally, have ‘olfactory memory’ problems, are easily disoriented and become poor learners.” Fewer of them return to the colony. Laden observes, “One thing that strikes me as especially interesting here is that many bees don’t make it back over a fairly long period of time even under normal conditions, and that some bees stay out overnight!” Another likely contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder is a tiny parasitic fly that lays its eggs inside a bee. Dr. Dolittle writes, “scientists have identified a host of potential culprits including pesticides that might weaken their immune systems, pathogens, parasites, and malnutrition.” In an age of global agriculture and invasive species, honeybees are threatened on all sides. But they are also vital to the propagation of many fruit and vegetable crops.