[Fwd: Naturally Occurring Carcinogens]

Jack Rowe jackrowe at compuserve.com
Fri Nov 28 13:18:36 EST 1997

Several critical factors distinguish naturally-occurring
pesticides/poisons/carcinogens/radio-isotopes/hormonal analogs from

-- persistence -- often PHENOMENAL persistence -- of the man-made products
and/or the resulting breakdown products. Consider radio-nucleotides such as
plutonium/uranium/etc... chlorinated hydrocarbons, with their interesting
tendency to degrade into byproducts as strong or stronger than the
originals... and free chlorine from bleach (Na hypochlorite -- talk about
reactive!) used in our drinking water (chlorine in drinking water makes a
LOT of sense) and for laundry... heavy metals... 

-- man-made toxins exist in forms not integrated into the biosphere over
aeons, as have been the naturally-occuring toxins. Some are highly-reactive
(meaning they can enter, and disrupt, a very broad range of systems) like
chlorine, which in nature exists in biologically-chelated forms wherein the
chlorine is basically never in a free radical state... 

-- estrogen analogs exist in nature, as in Sweet Potato or Sassafras --
however, sweet potato is not being spread by the mega-ton across the
surface of the inhabited globe, as are the organophosphates and numerous
other estrogen analogs. Until recently, male aquatic animals all over the
globe (Thames River being an extreme example) were not failing to develop
because of high levels of estrogen analogs. That this IS happening now is
presumably not due to Sassafras Tea. 

-- heavy metals, during past aeons tied up in geological formations instead
of running around loose, are being incorporated into our biosystems in
huge, huge quantities... lead (burned for years in cars, put into paints at
some 30% by weight, etc.), mercury (fungicides, tooth fillings -- another
really great idea -- etc.), arsenic (appearing in cotton defoliants and
CCA-treated wood (CCA... chromated copper arsenate... Mmmm, good...),
cadmium (used in galvanized nails, roofing, wire, etc.) and so on... and
on... and on...

Ok, this list could go on and on if I were better educated... one point to
tie it all together is that changes are occuring now which we cannot be
sure of reversing. Perhaps some of us are not sure that the changes are
actually due to our influence... when talking of global warming, ozone
depletion, acid rain deforestation, carcinogen proliferation, etc., might
we not act most wisely in such a way as to err on the side of caution?
Perhaps the rich will unnecessarily get richer a little more slowly if the
caution was for naught -- but what is the obverse condition? What is the
risk if even a significant proportion of our fears are founded in real
concerns? Do any of us have kids, grand-kids, great-grand-kids? 

Jack Rowe
jackrowe at compuserve.com

More information about the permaculture mailing list