Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

REVIEW: Poisoned for Profit, by Steve Jensen

Poisoned for Profit – “Background” Levels of Chemicals and Their Effect on Our Kids

“The toxification of the environment – the introduction of poisons into our habitat by industrial and commercial activity – has been a fact of modern life for decades.  But this plague of pollution is so insidious, like the slowly heating pot of water that boils the unsuspecting frog that its true dimensions have crept up on us largely unheeded. So has its impact on the health of our children.”

This startling paragraph opens an equally startling new book by husband and wife Philip and Alice Shabecoff, titled “Poisoned for Profit – How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill.” The Shabecoffs cast their book as a crime story and adopt the “voice of a prosecutor presenting a case to a jury” in pointing the finger at those responsible for the poisoning of our children.  The Shabecoffs conclude that those responsible parties include not only the industries who make the toxic products and dump them into the environment, but also the government officials who not only fail to stop such conduct, but often cooperate in the crime.  The authors also point at scientists who “see no evil” because they are employed by industry or otherwise self-delusional, and at all the rest of us who sit by passively and allow these crimes to continue, without doing anything about it.

How did the crimes occur? In myriad ways, at many places, by a large variety of culprits.  The authors write that “The health and well-being of children anyplace and everyplace in this country are under a like assault from a vast and largely uncontrolled array of hazardous, human-created substances in the environment.”  One of the “criminals” “prosecuted” in the book is familiar to the readers of this blog – Monsanto – the maker of 99 percent of all of the PCBs ever used in the United States.  The book documents Monsanto’s crimes against children not only as the maker of the environmentally ubiquitous PCBs, but also as the developer of “recombinant bovine growth hormone” or “rBGH” a hormone injected into cows to increase milk production.

Despite Monsanto’s determined investment of millions of dollars into a lobbying and public relations campaign to convince consumers and government that rBGH milk is completely safe, several countries in Europe have banned the hormone.  Meanwhile, in the United States, Monsanto has actually filed lawsuits to prevent dairy farmers from accurately labeling their milk as “rBGH free” on the basis that such a label suggests that “rBGH” is harmful.  Worse yet, Monsanto has won some of these suits.  Meanwhile, our children continue to drink milk tainted by a hormone that has never been shown to be safe.  To the contrary, we do know that rBGH milk contains elevated levels of insulin growth factor hormone, which could cause children who drink it to become more susceptible to cancer.

But what about Monsanto’s PCBs?  How do they affect children?  The book documents that PCBs have been well-established to cause brain damage in children exposed in the womb and early childhood. “The equivalent of a single drop in 118 bathtubs of a mixture of chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can cause a lowering of IQ and a rise in attention deficit disorder in a child exposed in the womb.”  Unfortunately, developing brains in young children are highly susceptible to the effects of neurotoxins such as PCBs.  When the brain pathways and connections that multiply so quickly in early childhood are interrupted, slowed, or halted by a chemical exposure, too often the child will never have a second chance to create those critical connections.  Thus, the damage is permanent.

So how do the Shabecoffs suggest that this problem be fixed?  They call for strengthening the laws governing the manufacture, use, and sale of chemicals, along with strong enforcement of such new laws. They call for “eliminat[ing] the common corporate practice of settling lawsuits with a denial of guilt, and, in essence, blackmailing families into silence.” More radically, the authors also suggest reforming the entire concept of corporate existence – including by discarding the notion that corporations should have the same (or better) legal rights as people.

The authors urge that, ultimately, our children cannot be protected from chemical assault unless and until we all commit to a grass-roots effort to force change in industry and government conduct. I believe they are right.

What do you think?

Read the original review here…


The Etymology of Stock and Broth

Question: When you make soup, do you start with stock or broth? Answer: It depends. Rachael Mamane answers that question and others in Mastering Stocks and Broths, the definitive and most comprehensive guide on stocks, broths, and how to prepare and use them. As a special treat to celebrate the book launch, we’ve got an excerpt […] Read More

How well do you know your charcuterie?

Prosciutto. Andouille. Country ham. The extraordinary rise in popularity of cured meats in recent years often overlooks the fact that the ancient practice of meat preservation through the use of salt, time, and smoke began as a survival technique. All over the world, various cultures developed ways to extend the viability of the hunt—and later […] Read More

4 Books for Growing Food in Winter

Don’t let cold weather stop you from producing and enjoying your own food. For many, the coming of winter simply means cultivation moves indoors or under cover. Small farmers, homesteaders, home gardeners, and commercial growers can extend the growing season with techniques outlined in these essential books. There’s no need for urbanites and small-space dwellers […] Read More

Is My Broth (or Stock) Bad?

Are you planning to start the GAPS diet or any other diet aimed at boosting gut health this year? If so, chances are that stocks and broths are critical components. Even if you’re not changing the way you eat, but you often have pots of aromatic goodness bubbling on your stove, you may have wondered, […] Read More

A Simple Way to Grow Fresh Greens Indoors This Winter

Just because the temperatures have started to drop doesn’t mean you have to live without fresh greens until Spring. Author and gardener Peter Burke’s innovative method of growing soil sprouts indoors can help you grow nutrient-dense greens all year long at a fraction of the cost of buying at market. Burke’s book, Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, is […] Read More
+1
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin