Reading through various news blogs the last few days, I keep finding these little items that really get under my skin. William Saletan (whose excellent column in Slate should be a required read for anyone interested in bio-tech and science in the mainstream) wrote yesterday on the FDA approval of Lybrel, the first birth control pill designed specifically to end monthly bleeding from menstruation. While I certainly can’t speak with authority on the matter, I will say that having two daughters has made me look at these issues with a great deal more interest than ever before, and I can’t help wondering what kind of underlying message a pill like this sends to women and young girls. Is it liberating or just more evidence of our need to completely sublimate our physical bodies into something wholly separate from our minds? Would this even be a discussion were it not for a long-standing social reinforcement that it’s the intricacies of female biology that somehow make them less than men?
As my girls get closer and closer to moving on to solid foods, I spend a great deal of time worrying about their diet. Thankfully, the EPA, the FDA, the National Academes, the USDA, and the Department of Health and Human Services have seen fit to reinforce that worry with their collaborative report on Children’s Chemical & Pesticide Exposure via Food Products which states such fun facts as :
– ….children receive 50% of their lifetime cancer risks in the first two years of life.
– According to [the] FDA, half of produce currently tested in grocery stores contains measurable residues of pesticides. Laboratory tests of eight industry-leader baby foods reveal the presence of 16 pesticides, including three carcinogens.
– In blood samples of children aged 2 to 4, concentrations of pesticide residues are six times higher in children eating conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables compared with those eating organic food.
– According to [the] Dept. of Health and Human Services, organophosphate pesticides (OP) are now found in the blood of 95% of Americans tested. OP levels are twice as high in blood samples taken from children than in adults. Exposure to OPs is linked to hyperactivity, behavior disorders, learning disabilities, developmental delays and motor dysfunction. OPs account for half of the insecticides used in the U.S.
– The CDC reports that one of the main sources of pesticide exposure for U.S. children comes from the food they eat.
Combine those fun facts with all the reports of contaminated foods being exported from China (and not being caught by customs), and I’m a step away from chucking it all and living on a farm. Who’s up for starting a cult?
Seriously, folks. These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night.