I’ve got a class and Eric’s got a final today, plus kid stuff, so I won’t have time to read through the President’s Cancer Panel Report today, but I do think it is worth noting that the recommendation that we start thinking more seriously about environmental factors and the health consequences they have has reached the mainstream. We know appallingly little about the chemical experiments we are enacting upon ourselves – we know very little, for example, about how they affect develping fetuses, despite the heavy prenatal exposure all our kids get. We know very little about the aggregate effects of chemical exposure – about not what the safe dose of one chemical is, but what all of the ones we are exposed to together do.
The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary.
“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”
That the report calls for us to eat food grown with no or minimal pesticides and chemical fertilizers is quite remarkable in and of itself, because this is such a mainstream landmark. More importantly, if we were truly to take reducing exposure to chemicals and pollutants seriously, we would have to come to the conclusion that this requires a shift in way of life as profound as our energy depletion and climate change do – indeed, require the same shift that those things require of us.