According to a recent French study spearheaded by an author and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, farmers using weedkillers are twice as likely to be treated for depression than those who don’t use the chemicals.
The results were published in outlets ranging from Reuters to Grist.org and many alternative news and health sites.
The aforementioned Harvard research, Marc Weisskopf, said that it was not clear whether or not the weedkillers themselves were responsible for the issues, but he did say that it is something that should be further studied.
According to Reuters, pesticides have been linked to Parkinson’s disease among farmers, however.
The study surveyed 567 French farmers on their use of various chemicals including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, and included home visits and other detailed research on their overall exposure to pesticides, along with their histories of being treated for depression.
When the statistics were combined with other risk factors including age and cigarette smoking, it was finally determined that those farmers exposed to weedkilling chemicals were nearly 2 ½ times more likely to have had depression.
In addition, those with greater exposure in terms of years or hours also had a higher risk.
The final conclusion was that more research is needed according to the article, which can be viewed here. But it’s another in a long line of red flags about pesticide use.
According to the EPA, 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed each year in the United States, and much of it is far from the inert, naturally broken down substance that the chemical companies originally told us it was.
The pesticides enter our bodies of water, irritate and harm nearby civilians, and are even found in our drinking/ground water.
To make matters worse, acute poisonings are also a big deal according to government statistics. A total of 10-20,000 farm workers are estimated to suffer poisonings due to pesticide use each year.
Roundup and Glyphosate, two commonly used farm chemicals, have also been found to cause cell damage even at residual levels.
With the proliferation of GMOs that use more pesticides, more chemical-based farming and more overall use, this is a problem that will only continue to grow unless we all support the organic movement with everything we’ve got.
While the French study still admittedly needs more research according to Weisskopf, a clear pattern is developing, and it’s time we all did our part to stop it (if we haven’t already).
Chemical companies claim they’re “all about helping farmers,” but it certainly doesn’t seem that way when the total picture is taken into account.
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