While the benefits of organic, biodynamic and other forms of natural and synthetic pesticide free agriculture are often maligned or ignored throughout the mainstream media as well as academia, the truth is that these systems are capable of saving thousands of lives across the globe.
A recent UN report showed that as many as 200,000 people die each year from pesticide exposure, and countless birth defects have been experienced in places where pesticide spray is heavy, with some places being hit especially hard including rural areas of Argentina and many other countries where overuse is rampant.
Recently, one particular case of poisoning in Bangladesh has come under extra scrutiny, and contrary to original reports, it appears as if the synthetic pesticides sprayed on fruits may have resulted in the deaths of 13 children.
New Study Links Banned Pesticides to 13 Deaths
According to a new study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the deaths of 13 Bangladeshi children have been linked to Endosulfan, a pesticide banned in more than 80 countries but not Bagladesh (or the United States for that matter) at the time of the incident.
The children died after eating lychees, a tropical fruit with a red outer shell and white inside that had reportedly been produced in an area where Endosulfan was being sprayed in large amounts.
They suffered from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), a condition often associated with deadly inflammation of the brain, and lived either right beside or with 10 meters of a lychee orchard where the chemical was being sprayed.
Endosulfan is a chlorinated insecticide that is chemically similar to the Monsanto-produced DDT which was banned nearly 40 years ago. It was banned in Europe in 2005 while the U.S. waited until 2016 according to this article from The Independent. Bangladesh was still using it as of 2016 as well; no info was provided on its current status in the country.
In the case of the 13 children, it was said that they had most likely been eating fruit from the ground during the time their diseases were contracted, and also that an orchard may have been using excess amounts of Endosulfan as well as a pesticide approved only for use on cotton crops.
“People in the communities told us that sometimes the spraying was so heavy it became difficult to stay in their houses and that the smell would linger for hours,” said the study’s lead author M. Saiful Islam, whose team conducted an exhaustive examination of the events of 2012 that led to the children’s deaths.
Previously a study published in The Lancet had determined that similar deaths of up to 122 people in India in 2014 were caused by lychee fruits themselves, which can potentially lead to dangerously low blood sugar when eaten on an empty stomach.
But the new study on the 2012 deaths in Bangladesh suggests that it may well have been the chemicals that are responsible for these and other deaths.
While it was not proven that the pesticides caused the deaths of the Bangladeshi children, the data correlated with the similar deaths from eating the fruit in India from the 2014 incident.