We know organic helps to protect our soils, wildlife and water sources. We also know it protects farmers and consumers from the many damaging and often toxic chemicals used widespread across the world.
But what do we really know about the effects of non-organic agriculture on our health?
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, evaluated five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides used in conventional agriculture, concluding that the herbicide glyphosate along with the insecticides malathion and diazinon are to be classified as carcinogenic to people. This was based on strong evidence that glyphosate caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells.
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide worldwide in agriculture and is rising rapidly as the spread of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO crops intensifies in agriculture. The IARC states that the general population, that’s me and you, are being exposed to the presence of this organophosphate in our food and water. Two other pesticides, Tetrachlorvinphos and Parathion, which are banned in the European Union and the USA, were also classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Despite these scientific evaluations, it is the responsibility of governments to legislate and take public health interventions. It is worth noting here that pesticides manufactured in the USA, and banned from use in the USA, are not prevented from being exported to other countries with weaker legislation.
GMO cotton is sprayed when the bud is open so that the herbicide enters the plant completely, so it should be of no surprise that glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA have been found in 85% of samples tested, which included menstrual tampons, sanitary pads, wipes and cotton gauze, in a preliminary study conducted by researchers at the University of La Plata in Argentina. More astonishing is that given the concerns for cancer, glyphosate was detected in 100% of the cotton and gauze samples tested according to head researcher Dr. Damian Marino. Glyphosate concentrations in the cotton were at 17 parts per billion (PPB) in products purchased from supermarkets and pharmacies in the local area. The research group were looking to demonstrate the presence of these carcinogenic substances in foods, the cotton was meant to be a control.
These findings were described by Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez from the national congress of Doctors of Fumigated Towns in Buenos Aires as “very serious when you use cotton or gauze to heal wounds or for personal hygiene uses, thinking they are sterile products and the results show that they are contaminated with a probable carcinogenic substance.”
Should we be worried?
280 million pounds of glyphosate has been applied to agricultural land. Head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, David Schubert says “there are a number of independent, published manuscripts that clearly indicate that glyphosate … can promote cancer and tumour growth. It should be banned.”
The human vagina readily absorbs chemicals found in tampons. When those tampons are made from GMO cotton, they almost always contain glyphosate that gets absorbed through vaginal walls into the bloodstream.
Natracare, together with the Women’s Voices for the Earth, are raising awareness about the unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals in feminine care products, including pesticides, fragrances, dyes and preservatives. At the same time, we aim to offer a viable solution of certified organic cotton sanitary products that are free from organophosphates and avoid unnecessary exposure to potentially carcinogenic materials.
Watch 5 fantastic facts about organic cotton