18 Nov 2008

Nuclear power, radiation, cancer, pesticides and ME

OK with a title like that I am not sure where this blog ramble will go but let's start with the Bristol Evening Post - they report this week that doses of radiation in food produced near Oldbury nuclear power station and the decommissioned Berkeley plant were well within annual limits.

Photos; Nothing to do with this blog entry - Veggy curry boxes from MoreHall Convent this Saturday - as usual they ran out but I managed to get one box after a long wait - below sheep and the lone ash tree after a late evening walk at the weekend up Ash Lane

The Food Standards Agency, an independent government watchdog had had a programme of monitoring foods produced in the vicinity of main nuclear sites to ensure it is safe to eat.

Here is a response below sent from Stop Hinkley / Shut Oldbury - it also mentions the wonderful victory by the amazing Georgina Downs who has fought for seven years for better controls for crop spraying pesticides - read Guardian here.

Having been unwell with ME myself in the past for years I have followed this story re pesticides with interest. There are many similarities between pesticide poisoning and some illnesses labeled as ME/CFS - the farmers poisoned by sheep dips etc - I am not for a moment saying pesticides are the cause of ME but there is no doubt they may well play a significant part in some people - I had already been ill but some days after my previous home was treated for dry rot I finally collapsed - a close friend got ill a week after her home was sprayed - coincidence maybe....or perhaps the final straw on an already compromised immune system.....

Anyhow I am convinced we need to take pesticides far more seriously - see here a previous comment on my blog - I've also highlighted stuff re Bee Colony Collapse the role pesticides might play in that - certainly needs real investigation after news today that there will be no British honey in the shops within a month due to Colony collapses - plus also earlier this year a wonderful play about Rachel Carson played in Stroud (there is still one tour date left in Wallingford). Anyhow after this letter there is some good news from the EU from 2 weeks ago re pesticides...

The Foods Standards Agency declaration that radiation levels are safe in food near Oldbury nuclear power station could mislead the public into believing there is no health risk in living near nuclear sites (Nuclear site food tests 17th November). Studies we commissioned in 2001 showed fifty percent more breast cancers in the population downstream of Oldbury over a six year period, a third more prostate cancers downwind of Oldbury and eleven times more leukaemia cases in Chepstow directly across the Severn from Oldbury.

This week's court ruling that pesticide spraying can harm peoples' health should be listened to by the nuclear industry. The pesticide doses were also deemed safe but the High Court disagreed, convinced by evidence collected by Georgina Down's campaign that peoples' health is not being protected by the Government and its agencies.

The Food Standards Agency, who monitor the radiation levels, subscribe to a theoretical model of health effects based on 60 year old data from the Hiroshima explosion. A single blast of radiation would have a very different effect than the long term ingestion of radioactive particles by local people, particularly if they are already vulnerable.

A new giant nuclear reactor, on the cards for Oldbury, would pour out still more radioactive waste into the Severn which will no doubt add to the local cancer toll. Extending the life of the existing dilapidated reactors will do the same, not to mention greatly adding to the risk of a serious accident. All this of course applies to Hinkley Point where more studies have consistently shown extra cancers.

Yours, Jim Duffy
Shut Oldbury/Stop Hinkley

Here's the news from EU: The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has adopted a report calling for better protection against the harmful effects of pesticides. Here is Green MEP Caroline LUcas' comment:

"With today's vote, MEPs have rejected industry scaremongering and sent a clear message to the European Council that they want to see a reduction in the use of potentially harmful pesticides. Human health must be given better protection from the chemicals entering into our environment. The Commission already acknowledges that long-term exposure to pesticides can lead to 'serious disturbances’ to the immune system, cancers, and genetic damage. Heavy pesticide use also poses a well documented risk to the natural world through the contamination of drinking water, threats to biodiversity, and long term soil degradation.

“Just a few weeks ago, the EU's latest Food Monitoring Report revealed that a record level of pesticides are being found in food items sold in the EU, with almost half of all fruit, vegetables and cereals containing pesticide residues, and 5% of them at concentrations above maximum legal limits. This is the highest ever level of pesticide contamination recorded in the EU, and represents an increase of around 20% over the past 5 years alone. Food products sold in the EU now contain 354 different pesticides.

“Today we are living with over 100,000 man-made chemicals in our environment, and we know that some of these are toxic. The concern lies not just with the behaviour of individual chemicals, but also how they react in combination with each other. Recent studies have found up to 300 man-made chemicals in human fat tissue. When you hear that a Cox's apple can typically be sprayed 18 times with various pesticides, you really have to question the wisdom of current methods.”

Caroline also welcomed the fact that residents living near sprayed crops were recognised in the adopted report as "vulnerable groups", in recognition of the fact that they are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of being exposed to repeat spraying with a cocktail of potentially dangerous pesticides. She also highlighted the benefits of organic farming and a more sustainable system of food production, commenting: “A major study by the UN last week showed an analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries and found that yields more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used. It was even reported that organic farming had increased yields in East Africa by 128%, indicating that organic farming carries a far greater potential to improve food security than some may claim."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just out - A new study in the journal Oecologia indicates that when pesticides mix in the environment, they form "chemical cocktails" that are more toxic than previously estimated. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that when 10 of the world's most commonly used pesticides combine, as they regularly do in the environment, the chemicals caused an astounding 99 percent mortality in leopard frogs. According to the study abstract, "Wetland communities can be dramatically impacted by low concentrations of pesticides (both separate and combined) and these results offer important insights for the conservation of wetland communities."