Knowing how much our food supply depends on chemicals bums me out. Using those chemicals to fight weeds may also bum out farmers, says new research from France:
[Harvard professor Marc] Weisskopf's group reports in the American Journal of Epidemiology that 83 farmers, about 15 percent, said they had been treated for depression. Forty-seven of them had never used pesticides, while 36 had.
Among the farmers without Parkinson's disease, 37 who had never used herbicides and 20 who had used the weedkillers reported being treated for depression.
There was no difference in the risk of having depression among the farmers who had used fungicides or insecticides, compared to those who hadn't used any pesticide.
But when the researchers took into account factors linked with depression, such as age and cigarette smoking, they determined that those farmers exposed to weedkillers were nearly two and a half times as likely to have had depression.
Furthermore, farmers who had greater exposure - either more hours or longer years using herbicides - also had a greater chance of having depression than farmers who had used weedkillers less [Kerry Grens, "Weedkillers Tied to Depression in Farmers," Reuters, 2013.07.26].
Say it with me: correlation does not prove causation. It could be that farmers using herbicide suffer more depression because they have enslaved themselves to the ag-industrial complex to make a living.
But you know, my friend Charlie Johnson, Orland's organic farming mogul, always seems to have a smile on his face. Maybe it's just because he can have visitors over to his farm without worrying that Monsanto will call in an air strike.