A spoof and some atrazine

A spoof

I was fooled this week by a spoof copy of the International Herald Tribune Newspaper, created by Greenpeace. The newspaper announced that European leaders had agreed a historic deal on Climate Change. One article noted how French president Nicolas Sarkozy had made the breakthrough with dramatic French commitments, and was quickly followed by other countries around the world.

I only realised that I’d been fooled when a follow-up article began by announcing that Italian president Silvio Berlusconi had been rushed to hospital with “confetti inhalation and hug-related injuries” after returning to a heroes welcome in Rome.

In a follow-up the next day, the editors apologised for the errors “on pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of yesterday’s 8 page special”, concluding that the only part that wasn’t incorrect was the hug-related injuries to Berlusconi, currently in the news for his dalliances with teenage models.

As I read the reports, my mood changed from one of ecstasy, to one of anger, chiding myself for falling for the obvious spoof and that “of course” the world’s leaders would never agree to such wide-ranging action. Only to wonder why we are always so cynical, why we should not always expect, and work towards, the best.

With political pressure mounting on leaders who, often under intense lobbying from oil companies, have resisted any action on climate change until now, why shouldn’t we expect the best. Oil companies, who’ve spent millions on disinformation campaigns around climate change, are now beginning to realise the game is up, and they can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes any longer.

Carrots, peas and some atrazine?

Ever wanted to see in detail what sort of pesticides are present in most common foods? The website www.whatsonmyfood.org lists pesticide residues found on various foods, based on US data. The South African results will probably be similar. Buying a chemically-grown carrot, for example, will get you a lot more than you bargained for. There are 26 pesticide residues listed, of which 6 are described as known or probable carcinogens (cancer-causing), 16 suspected hormone disruptors, 3 neurotoxins (only three, that’s a relief), and 6 developmental or reproductive toxicants.

The website has a focus on atrazine, a herbicide widely used in the US and South Africa, but banned in Europe in 2004 as a suspected endocrine disruptor.

I’m aware of a 1992 study in South Africa, that found traces of atrazine in 20% of surface and groundwater samples in an extensive survey of maize production areas. I’m sure 17 more years of residue buildup hasn’t helped matters, nor has it helped the farmworkers who bear the brunt of our decisions to support chemically-grown food.

Wet and cold weather

With the wet and cold weather this week, our farmers have been affected, and the variety and quantity of fresh produce available is a little less than usual. But there’s still lots to order, from incense, solar and windup torches and lights, non-toxic paints, and of course the best range of organic produce around. Head on over to www.ethical.org.za to order.

Have a great week,
the Ethical Co-op team

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