photograph copyright dorota woOver the past several years something has come to my attention, time and again. It appears that instead of making the health and well-being of its citizens its top priority, the United States Government is bending to the will of big corporate lobbyists.

There are two examples that I would like to share with you.

1. The Vanishing Bees
In recent years, honeybees have been rapidly dying and literally vanishing from their hives. This phenomena has come to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder. A commonly used class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, is likely to blame.

Neonicotinoids attack the nervous system of insects, killing them off. This makes them excellent pest control—so excellent that many seeds are sold treated with neonicotinoids. The plant grows with the pesticide inside it, allowing it to kill all the insects which attack it.

Two neonicotinoids produced by Bayer, one of the world’s leading pesticide manufacturers, have already been banned in European countries. In Germany, clothianidin was banned when tests on dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin.

Bayer’s best selling pesticide, imidacloprid, sold under the name Gaucho in France, has been banned as a seed dressing for sunflowers in that country since 1999, after a third of French honeybees died following its widespread use. Five years later it was also banned as a sweetcorn treatment in France. A few months ago, the company’s application for clothianidin was rejected by French authorities.

Meanwhile, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has knowingly and repeatedly approved this bee-killing pesticide.  I highly recommend the documentary, The Vanishing Bees, for more on this topic.

While I have not found conclusive evidence that this pesticide is harmful to human beings, this is a pesticide that destroys the nervous system of living things. I do not want it in my body! Why does the United States government continue to approve the use of this poison? Political pressure, corruption, backwards politics.

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2. The Debate Over Parabens
There is a roaring debate over food and cosmetic preservatives called parabens. According to livestrong.com, parabens are a fungicide, which can preserve the life of a product. The HSDB states that methylparaben is quickly absorbed through the skin and the intestinal tract (when used as a food preservative). There is a great deal of controversy surrounding its use, with many reports of dangerous side effects.

One type of paraben, methylparaben, in particular has been linked to breast cancer, skin damage, eye damage, and male fertility issues.

The EPA in their report “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Agents of Subtle Change?” reported that the chemical preservatives called parabens—methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl (alkyl-p-hydroxybenzoates)—displayed estrogenic activity in several tests. This means that these chemicals mimic your body´s own hormones and can have endocrine-disrupting action when they are rubbed into your body or washed down the drain into your drinking water. These disruptors interfere with your body´s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body.

Parabens are estrogen mimickers. They can bind to the cellular estrogen receptor. They also increase the expression of many genes that are usually regulated by estradiol and cause human breast tumor cells to grow and proliferate in vitro.

Once again, there are conflicting opinions in the medical community about the potential risks associated with parabens; however there is research that shows that these things are potentially harmful and toxic. I do not want these things in my body! Why is the government doing little to inform the public about these dangers?

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With all of this being said, this is not a political post. While I may strongly disagree with the actions of the government in these two instances, I can appreciate the fact that many people do not want the government to interfere in their lives or dictate what they can/can not eat, use, support, etc.

Rather than making a political argument, I am sharing this information to encourage you to educate yourself and make the right decisions for your own well-being. I grew up in a culture that told me that the government was protecting me; that government bodies like the EPA and the FDA are in place to protect me and look out for my well-being. However, I now know that this is simply not the truth. These government bodies bend to the wills of big corporations. Period.

The only way to ensure my well-being is to educate myself about every choice that I make—everything that I put into and onto my body.

I do not live a radically alternative lifestyle. I do not eat a 100% organic diet or use 100% organic products. However, I am slowly moving in that direction. Recently, I have been paying more careful attention to everything that I consume and apply to my body. I am more conscious of the companies that I support and more mindful of where things come from, how they are made, and so on.

I believe in supporting local, sustainable and environmentally-friendly production practices. These things are very important to me. I am not advocating for radical or instant change. I am not suggesting that you go into your bathroom/kitchen and throw out every non-organic product that you come across. However, I do encourage you to keep these things in mind the next time that you go to the store.

The examples that I have listed above are just two out of hundreds that I have learned about in recent years. There are always multiple sides to every story. I am presenting you with some facts and sharing my own opinions.

Sadly, we live in a time and a place where sometimes, the people who should have our health in mind, are more focused on turning a profit or being re-elected than keeping people healthy. However, this is not an excuse for us to suffer. It is our responsibility to educate, protect and nourish ourselves.

In love & light,
Dena

6 thoughts on “Poison Preservatives & Vanishing Bees”

  1. I am with you 100% on this (especially government involvement), but I think it’s worth noting that although parabens are likely bad and should be replaced they serve a function – to inhibit growth of dangerous bacteria and fungus. Natural cosmetics need to be used properly and disposed of as soon as they expire or start looking/smelling weird otherwise they can be dangerous.
    It’s also sad but true that companies often ‘greenwash’ their products. A beauty product might say “80% natural/organic” but what they don’t tell you is that the product is actually 78% water so the advertising is seriously misleading.
    The Beauty Brains website has really good information about deciphering product claims and I really recommend checking them out when product questions arise.
    thebeautybrains .com/2007/06/06/are-you-confused-by-organic-products-too/
    thebeautybrains .com/2009/12/12/beauty-news-bits-can-you-trust-cosmetic-claims/

  2. Dena, I applaud this insightful post. Like you, I constantly struggle to try to be true to my beliefs and to good people inan increasing morass of disillusionment and disgust. All we can do is pay attention, take stands, and be true to ourselves. If the majority of people in this country do that, I can’t help but believe our leaders will be forced to listen and make radical changes in the way they govern.

    1. Thanks so much, Andra!  I am so happy to have a sister-in-arms in you.  Like you, I have to believe that the radical, positive changes are coming. In the meantime, it’s just like you say: pay attention, take a stand, and be TRUE to ourselves.  <3

  3. I really like the time/effort you put into this article, Dena. It turned out to be very informative and it is disappointing to know that the people who are getting paid to look out for the interests of U.S. citizens is not always able to do so. I also like how honest you are about yourself; it shows a level of self-awareness that is so honorable. 

  4. And I agree with what Andie said — I have converted all of my shower products and face care to Lush in the past few years. The downside? It’s expensive & if a little bit of water gets into the jar, you will get mold within 5-7 days and have to dump 2 or 3 months’ worth of product. I have done it, so I know! As far as value, however, I think Lush is absolutely worth it. I spend $20-30/each on face wash & a mask, but they lasts for 3-4 months at a time. This makes them more expensive upfront than conventional products, but you only have to use them sparingly and be very careful about only retrieving a blob to use when your hands are dry (i.e. don’t keep them in the shower like I did the first time!)

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