While governments attempt to find the right balance between agriculture and human health, researchers have turned to our microbial counterparts in the hope of finding species capable of breaking down chlorpyrifos. The goal has been primarily to find beneficial candidates with little concern for public health. After all, it's rare that one can get the best of both worlds. Yet this indeed may be the case.
Normally, when an outbreak or epidemic is found, the first order of business is to confirm a situation is actually happening. Once that is confirmed, the next step is to identify the cause. In the case of Zika virus, both these steps happened without much concern. Unfortunately, the rest of the epidemiological investigation has been anything but a matter of routine. The reason stems from our rather rudimentary understanding of the Zika virus. While we have known about its existence for decades, only a few studies on its effect on humans have ever been conducted. This means we're learning new things every day as new studies are ordered. What this does NOT mean, however, is that we are all victims of a vast conspiracy. So let's keep that in mind as we look at what we do know so far.
I've spoken to thousands of environmental and community activists during many years of meeting with Canadians across this country. I've heard too many stories of people being harassed, ostracized, sued for standing up to large corporations and even fired from jobs because of their environmental advocacy. Canadians must continue to speak out for our water, land, air and wildlife, for justice for Indigenous Peoples, and for a clean energy future -- without fear of harassment, intimidation and hatred.
The flourishing organic farm movement in North America proves that we can grow food economically and sustainably without resorting to an accelerating chemical arms race. Systemic pesticides are causing harm to our environment on a massive scale. We don't need them. There is no conclusive evidence that systemics are harmful to humans, but we've been consuming a cocktail of different systemic chemicals for decades now, and there's been virtually no study of what that might mean for our long-term health.
On Mother's Day, I look at my kids and think how blessed I am. Not just because I've had a chance to raise them, with all of the love, pride and fun that brings to my life. But because doing so has been a joyful experience. I've been able to nourish them, keep them warm, and send them off to school in the morning.
After my meeting with the Health Minister Rona Ambrose in November, 2014, I was under the impression that labelling genetically modified foods was up to the scientists at Health Canada. But when I asked two of Health Canada's senior officials about it, I was told that it's not a health and safety issue; therefore it is not within their mandate. Shouldn't the Ministry of Health and Health Canada be looking for conclusive proof that GMOs are safe? I think that is a better way to look out for the health of Canadians.
Apart from the immediate and lethal effects on bees, neonics represent a more subtle threat to a wide range of species. The 2014 Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Systemic Pesticides, the most comprehensive review of the scientific literature on neonics, pointed to effects on smell and memory, reproduction, feeding behaviour, flight and ability to fight disease.
Bees may be small, but they play a big role in human health and survival. Some experts say one of every three bites of food we eat depends on them. The insects pollinate everything from apples and zucchini to blueberries and almonds. If bees and other pollinators are at risk, entire terrestrial ecosystems are at risk, and so are we.
Ah, organic foods. Mysterious and pretentious. Some people swear by organic foods to avoid the "hidden dangers" of conventional products, whereas others completely ignore anything organic, equating the term organic with expensive. But what does "organic" even mean, and is eating organic better for you?
If you thought our global food crisis can't get any worse, guess who's winning this year's Nobel Prize of Agriculture? Robert T Fraley, Executive VP of Monsanto is one of the recipients of this prestigious award (equivalent to the Oscars) on World Food Day October 16 for creating genetically modified organism (GMO).
Bees are endlessly intriguing, and incredibly useful to us -- and not just for honey and wax. If bees disappeared, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to grow much of what we eat. The economic value of pollination services from honeybees alone is estimated at $14 billion in the U.S. and hundreds of millions in Canada.
For centuries, bees have been a steady part of agriculture. However, in the last decade, due to a rather pesky germ and modern day crop management, this stability has been threatened. What's worse is that the impact could lead to less choice at the grocery store and inevitably higher prices. This past week, scientists definitively found the source of the bee population downturn. Unfortunately, it may be a case of too little, too late.
The government seems to believe that if poisons are used by licensed personnel they are acceptable. This is nonsense. Pesticides pose very significant health risks for people and the environment no matter who sprays them. Poisons don't become benign just because the person using them has been given proper instructions.
Many different organizations and health experts have purposed various solutions to solve the western world's obesity epidemic. But the underlying problem to the obesity epidemic is the current population's lack of connectivity to the soil, the environment and the food supply. If we can reconnect our current population with the food supply and the community, we will create a healthier and brighter future for generations to come.