While admitting humans are experiencing the highest incidence of disease and that thousands of dangerous chemicals are used in products people consume, a World Health Organization report says there is only weak evidence that human health has been adversely affected by the abundance of those chemicals in food and other products.
There are two facts that are undeniable when it comes to human health. First, despite great advances in science and technology, humans are sicker beings today –both mentally and physically–, when compared to half a century ago, for example. Even worse, the incidence of previously unknown or inexistant diseases has grown exponentially due to ‘inexplicable’ reasons. Second, those who were charged with verifying the safety of the production processes and the goods that are mass-produced for human consumption, failed to point out the dangers, and the side effects of thousands of substances used in the manufacture of industrial products.
The reason for the failure to properly guard human health and the environment from toxic chemicals varies, and it needs to be investigated on a case to case basis, but generally it occurred either due to lack of knowledge or because those watching out for our safety overlooked clear evidence that certain chemicals posed a direct threat to humanity and the environment. Three cases in point: DDT, fluoride in the water, mercury in vaccines, pesticides and herbicides.
In 2013, 41 years after its creation, the World Health Organization finally decided to publish a document where it expresses its concern about the adverse effects that toxic chemicals may have in humans; specifically on the human endocrine system. The document issued by the WHO titled Global Assessment of the State‐of‐the‐Science of Endocrine Disruptors, addresses what millions of people around the world, and thousands of health care practitioners have warned about for many years: chemicals put in the foods we eat, the water we drink and others used in industrial processes harm human health and gravely contaminate the environment.
Unfortunately, the report starts by playing down the role of industrial chemicals in the exponential appearance of disease among humans. The WHO cites as its final conclusion that “although it is clear that certain environmental chemicals can interfere with normal hormonal processes, there is weak evidence that human health has been adversely affected by exposure to endocrine-active chemicals.” As many other unaccountable global organizations, the WHO refused to look at independently gathered evidence that raised concerns about the poisoning of humans and the environment by the industrial process and how chemicals used in the production of food, for example, was the origin of previously unknown diseases.
It took 16 years for the WHO to accept and implement the advice provided by various health groups about the serious problem with the way food is produced as well as the way toxic chemicals are used in the production of the food we ingest. Back in 1997, the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety and the Environment Leaders of the Eight regarding the issue of EDCs, the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), a joint programme of WHO, UNEP and the International Labour Organization, began preparing the report issued in 2013.
Along with its general conclusion that its panel of scientists did not find enough evidence –despite all the evidence that exists– that human health is indeed adversely affected by exposure to endocrine disruptors found in toxic chemicals, the WHO report highlights just over a dozen other warning signs that humans, animals and the environment as a whole MAY be experiencing the consequences of systematic poisoning.
After explaining that life on Earth depends on its ability to reproduce and developed normally, the WHO report explains that there is a high incidence and a growing trend of endocrine-related disorders in humans; that there are observations of endocrine-related effects in wildlife populations; and that there is enough evidence that chemicals to which everyone is exposed to have endocrine disrupting properties linked to disease outcomes in laboratory studies. Amazingly, the WHO admits that there is more evidence to suggest that toxic chemicals DO cause endocrine disruptions on animals than on humans.
Figure 2. Overview of the endocrine system. Obtained from WHO report “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals”. 2013.
The report found that endocrine-related diseases and disorders are on the rise, especially on young men. It related that in some countries, up to 40% of young men show low semen quality, which translates in their inability to have children. In addition to infertility, the report calls attention to the incidence of genital malformations, adverse pregnancy outcomes, neurobehavioural disorders associated with thyroid disruption, an unexplained rise in endocrine-related cancers that include breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid, earlier development of the breasts in young girls and the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, which increased exponentially all over the world for the past 40 years.
The World Health Organization reports that some 800 chemicals are confirmed or suspected to interfere with hormone receptors, hormonal synthesis or conversion and that only a small amount of those chemicals have been properly studied to determine their negative effects on the organisms. That is to say, health watchdogs –both at the national and international levels– traditionally failed to test for the potential or demonstrated threats that toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of food products presented to humans and other forms of life. “The vast majority of chemicals in current commercial use have not been tested at all,” the study admits.
As many independent observations have previously warned, humans and all life on this planet are continuously exposed to Endocrine Disruptive Chemicals (EDC), which traditionally occurs in low but permanent levels. The WHO report confirms this fact by saying that evidence shows that humans and wildlife are exposed to more EDCs than just those found in persistent organic pollutants. The report also confirms that food and drinking water are two major contributors of human and animal poisoning, but that the list of those elements that poison us all is long.
“Children can have higher exposures to chemicals compared with adults—for example, through their hand-to-mouth activity and higher metabolic rate. The speed with which the increases in disease incidence have occurred in recent decades rules out genetic factors as the sole plausible explanation.”
Figure 3. Sensitive windows of development. Each tissue has a specific window during development when it is forming. Obtained from WHO report “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals”. 2013.
The statement above is damning evidence that most, if not all supposedly genetically transmitted diseases, are not really passed on to humans by their progenitors, but by their exposure to chemicals created or used during the production of food and other products. The report goes on detailing that chemicals such as DDT, PCB’s, diethylstilbestrol (DES) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), often used in pesticides and herbicides, or for controlling insect reproduction, are to blame for breast cancer, prostate cancer, non-descended testes.
How can they then say that the evidence is weak when it comes to the relation between toxic chemicals and mass spread disease?
The assessment on endocrine disruptors clarified that much of the damage caused by toxic chemicals happens during pregnancy or early in human life. “Numerous laboratory studies support the idea that chemical exposures contribute to endocrine disorders in humans and wildlife.”
Again, where is the weak link then?
“Developmental exposures can cause changes that, while not evident as birth defects, can induce permanent changes that lead to increased incidence of diseases throughout life.
These insights from endocrine disruptor research in animals have an impact on current practice in toxicological testing and screening. Instead of solely studying effects of exposures in adulthood, the effects of exposures during sensitive windows in fetal development, perinatal life, childhood and puberty require careful scrutiny.”
The WHO report openly admits that organizations that are supposed to be vigilant about the adverse effects of poisons used in the industrial manufacture process have failed time after time to do that very task. “There has been a failure to adequately address the underlying environmental causes of trends in endocrine diseases and disorders.”
Is there room here for liability?
According to the WHO, disease risk induced by endocrine disrupting chemicals may have been significantly underestimated. That is to say, doctors and other health care practitioners who up until today follow the teachings of modern medicine as their base to diagnose disease while ignoring –sometimes purposely– the evidence presented by many studies on the adverse effects of EDC’s, are also to blame for current wave of ‘unknown’ or ‘untreatable disorders.
“We know that humans and wildlife are simultaneously exposed to many EDCs; thus, the measurement of the linkage between exposure to mixtures of EDCs and disease or dysfunction is more physiologically relevant. In addition, it is likely that exposure to a single EDC may cause disease syndromes or multiple diseases, an area that has not been adequately studied.” Why not? Certainly nor because of lack of funding. Perhaps disinterest from the part of large pharmaceutical conglomerates who conduct their own studies with the ONLY intention to show whether a product is effective, but not to determine its safety or the long-term adverse effects on humans. The same is true for companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and others which brag about their technological discoveries even though many independent tests prove, beyond reasonable doubt that their GMO’s, herbicides and pesticides are killing people all over the world.
Despite the mounting evidence presented in its own study, the skyrocketing incidence of disease in the last 50 years and the growing trends that show how EDC’s are more and more involved in causing adverse effects on human populations, the WHO again limits the relation between EDC’s and disease as a matter of association, instead of going beyond and calling it a matter of cause and effect. The report says that human studies can show associations only. But what happens when those associations continue to appear, study after study? Doesn’t that build a clear relationship of cause and effect?
Since most main stream corporate or government financed studies do not properly test for the effects of EDC’s on humans, because they are conducted with a very low number of subjects and for a very short time, the WHO has determined that this ‘association’ does not go beyond casual results that do not offer enough evidence to pose a cause and effect relationship. This is so, because although the mounting evidence, most tests are not designed to show that cause-effect relationship, which immediately invalidates them as reliable proof or evidence that toxic chemicals have –for a long time– caused disease in people and polluted the environment.
The report correctly points out that the shift already taking place from determining associations to testing for links –cause and effect– is the way to go to show what it deems as solid evidence that toxic chemicals indeed cause disease. But the WHO still fails to recognize what many studies have determined: that the adverse effects of early and continuous exposure to toxic chemicals are only detected late in life. Those effects, as explained before, are usually misdiagnosed by most doctors, who usually tell their patients that the origin of their illness is still unknown and that there is no way to treat the causes; only the symptoms. At this point, patients are condemned to taking pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of their lives, which eventually end up killing them due to their own adverse effects.
So, the state of human health today is equally bad from two different fronts. People are either killed by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals used in the production process of food or in the food itself, or they die while trying to ‘cure’ their diseases with industrialized pharmaceuticals whose own side effects are as deadly as those from the chemicals people are trying to get rid of. Either way, people die long, painful deaths.
So what is next? What needs to be done to end this vicious circle of disease? Can long-term studies be the solution? I think it is too little too late for that. Waiting another 10 or 20 years to see the result of long-term tests is not something a lot of people can afford now. That does not mean that those studies should not be done. It means that people need to find solutions by themselves. Now that the World Health Organization has finally confessed they have not done their job to protect people from dangerous substances –quite the opposite is true– people need to understand that their nutrition is their responsibility. It always has been so. From the part of the organizations that are supposed to keep us safe from the dangers of toxic chemicals, it is time to stop talking and start walking.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.