Need another reason to eat organic? Or at least pesticide-free?
In a study to be published this month, Israeli researchers examining the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in the Wadi Ara Arab communities in northern Israel found an unusually high prevalence of the disease in the areas of Baqa al-Gharbiyeh.
Baqa al-Gharbiyeh, an Arab community, has an incidence of 73.39 cases per 100,000 residents, in comparison to surrounding communities like Umm al-Fahm (34.84 cases), Kafr Qara (25.45), and Ara and Arara (18.45 cases).
The reason for this disparity, the researchers explain, is exposure to agricultural pesticides. Update: Later studies in the United States in 2014 show a direct link between DDE, a metabolite of DDT, and the brains of people who have Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Rafik Masalha, head of the epilepsy clinic at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, explains: “In Baqa there is higher exposure to industrial agriculture, which includes the use of pesticides, and there are many more farmers compared to other communities in Wadi Ara, whose livelihood is more based on urban work or construction.
Pesticides in the brain
“It was proved that pesticides inhaled can affect the brain stem, which is responsible for the production of dopamine.”
Dopamine is a vital brain chemical. Deficiency causes Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system that affects motor skills and speech.
According to the research, residents of Baqa al-Gharbiyeh are exposed to pesticides that are dumped by small airplanes. They may also be exposed to pesticides by drinking contaminated water, although the Israeli Ministry of Health says it has not recorded any unusual concentrations of pesticides in Baqa al-Gharbiyeh’s drinking water.
A statement released by the Ministry read:
“The use of pesticides in Israel is reasonable and under supervision. Well water is examined routinely and meets the strictest standards set by the World Health Organization and the US health authorities. If pollution is found in a well, it is shut down. Pollution in wells as a result of pesticides is rare in Israel.”
To date, the Ministry of Health does not maintain a database on Parkinson’s patients, so this research is the first to discuss the disease within the context of community and environmental health.
In Turkey a researcher was threatened he would go to jail if he continued to talk about the link between industrial pollutants in his village and the high incidence of heavy metals in breast milk. If you live in the Middle East speaking up isn’t easy. Especially when your life is at stake.