Wednesday, May 15, 2024

What Role Does AG Play in Cancer Rates? Iowa

 Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Agriculture, Science & Society, Health, Medicine, Pollution, Sustainability, Global Change, Climate Change

Ed Hessler

On April 28, the StarTribune republished a long essay by Erin Jordan of the (Cedar Rapids)  Gazette. I recommend you read "What Role Does Ag Play in Cancer Rates?" It was published under "Agriculture," the page appears to be sponsored by Bremer Banks.

As you know by now, the StarTribune article is behind a subscription paywall but The Gazette's original story is available on-line.

Some of what the reporting covers:

--"Iowa is the No. 1 corn-producing state. It also leads the nation in the production of pork, eggs and ethanol."

--Oncologist, Dr. Richard Deming described the state as "'a bath of ag chemicals: herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, nitrates'."  No one knows whether every one of them gets into water supplies or on our skin, causes cancer but Deming suspects '"that we'll find (when compared to other states)  that might also be one of the contributing factors'."

--The experience of farmer (small scale vegetable and poultry) didn't use pesticides -his neighbors die - who was '"doused by a crop duster'." He asks, "'Who knows which of those things provided the tipping point?'." He works with the Pesticide Action Network since 2020.

--I didn't know that "farmers, in general, are healthier than the average public" and Jordan lists some possibilities. This was another surprise, "farmers have a lower rate of cancer overall" but "for some types of cancer "have higher rates (listed)."

--Jordan includes a bullet point list of ag risks.

--Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin "used more than 20 million tons (40,000,000,000 pounds or 18,143,694,800 kg) of synthetic fertilizer." Jordan discusses, at some length, the phenomenon of one of them: "'excess nitrogen washing'."

--There is a discussion of the link to certainty which includes remarks by Senator Ken Rosenboom. When is there is "enough evidence to take action?'."  David Cwiertny, director of the University of Iowa's Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) is critical of the delays - talk, need for more studies and hints at what he thinks is sufficient evidence.

Thanks to the StarTribune, The Gazette and Bremer Banks if it sponsors this page in the StarTribune, for publishing this timely article.

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