Farm workers demand action on Parkinsons threat from pesticides

LOS ANGELES (PAI) — Following published revelations that excessive exposure to pesticides increases the incidence of Parkinson’s disease, the United Farm Workers are demanding the federal Environmental Protection Agency act against the threat.

With a petition posted late December on its web site, the union urges people to tell the EPA that federal scientists “should be looking at the real-life scenarios of exposures for everyone — especially farm workers and farmers — which includes exposure to multiple chemicals that can produce cumulative impacts on the body and environment.” The EPA scientists now evaluate chemicals one by one, the UFW adds.

The union cites an extensive Nov. 27 Los Angeles Times report of new scientific findings of a link between high exposure to pesticides and Parkinson’s, a progressively degenerative nerve disease for which there is no cure at present.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences epidemiologist Freya Kamel told the Times scientists are “definitely there, beyond a doubt, in showing environmental toxicants have to be involved” in some Parkinson’s cases. And the report cited British research that at least 40 studies of human patients, three of human brain tissues, and hundreds of animal experiments show “a relatively consistent relationship between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s.”

“More than 1 billion pounds of herbicides, insecticides and other pest-killing chemicals are used on U.S. farms and gardens and in households,” the UFW, quoting the story, said. “They administer a one-two punch, decimating brain cells.” The union concluded: “This is a problem we can’t ignore.”