Thu, 30 November 2006
An ongoing series on Deconstructing Dinner that looks at the chemicals in food. From pesticides to food additives, chemicals are both intentionally and unintentionally entering into food, and into our bodies.
In this second part of the Chemical Food Series, we attempt to better understand the chemical pesticides that are sprayed on the vast majority of the foods available to us. How are they regulated? Are safety standards adequate? What are the health risks of the pesticide residues found in our food?
One particular pesticide Sulfuryl Fluoride, has recently become a controversial issue since tolerance levels for the chemical have been raised. There is now said to be an increasing presence of fluoride in the environment and in our diet. Approximately 40% of Canadians live in cities with fluoridated water supplies, and in the United States; 67% of the population. The total exposure to fluoride is now steadily increasing, and we will look closely at fluoridated drinking water to introduce these risks posed by Sulfuryl Fluoride. While most British Columbians do not receive fluoridated drinking water, our industrial food system sees foods and beverages being shipped from cities that do.
One of the world's largest pesticide manufacturers is The Dow Chemical Company. We will put the spotlight on Dow, a company that has close ties to the issues covered on this broadcast.
Charles Benbrook - Chief Scientist, The Organic Center (Oregon) - The Organic Center foresees the conversion of agriculture to organic methods improving health for the earth and its inhabitants. They aim to generate credible, peer reviewed scientific information and communicate the verifiable benefits of organic farming and products to society. Dr. Charles Benbrook worked in Washington, D.C. on agricultural policy, science and regulatory issues from 1979 through 1997. He served for 1.5 years as the agricultural staff expert on the Council for Environmental Quality at the end of the Carter Administration. In early 1981, he was the Executive Director of the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture with jurisdiction over pesticide regulation, research, trade and foreign agricultural issues. In 1984 Benbrook was recruited to the job of Executive Director, Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences, a position he held for seven years.
Richard Wiles - Senior Vice-President, Environmental Working Group (EWG) (Washington D.C.) - EWG has been at the forefront of the debate on PCBs in farmed salmon, benzene in soft drinks and fluoride in city drinking water. Richard Wiles directs EWG's programs. He is a former senior staff officer at the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Agriculture, where he directed scientific studies, including two that resulted in landmark reports: Regulating Pesticides in Food: The Delaney Paradox and Alternative Agriculture. Wiles is a leading expert in environmental risks to children, and under his direction, EWG has become one of the most respected environmental research organizations in the country.