No, not the Blackadder one, this is Peter Melchett of the Soil Association. He’s taken issue with something from yesterday and left this in the comments:
November 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm [Edit]
Tim Worstall says ‘to big up organic farming’ the Soil Association decided ‘to make up this stuff about a cocktail’ of pesticides. This week’s Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine heard presentations from scientists about recent (peer reviewed, published) scientific research. Papers cited include: Pettis, et al; 2013; PLOS ONE, 8 (7) 70182 ; and Traynor et al; Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 33207 DOI: 10.1038/srep33207, which suggest that mixtures or ‘cocktails’ of pesticides present at well below the official regulatory level (the MRL) pose a risk, and that eating a succession of pesticides at well below the MRL can also pose previously unidentified risks (Ashauer et al; Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (5), pp 3084–3092). No MRLs are set for mixtures or succession consumption, nor given the potential diversity of mixtures and successions, could they be. Given this, a scientist at the conference was asked what people should do, and he said the only way to minimise pesticide intake was to eat organic food.
Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association and organic farmer.
Hmm. Well, Pettis is here.
Recent declines in honey bee populations and increasing demand for insect-pollinated crops raise concerns about pollinator shortages. Pesticide exposure and pathogens may interact to have strong negative effects on managed honey bee colonies.
That’s not exactly about pesticide cocktails, is it? Rather more about the interaction between exposure and infestations with mites and the like.
Traynor is here.
This study measured part of the in-hive pesticide exposome by analyzing residues from live in-hive bees, stored pollen, and wax in migratory colonies over time and compared exposure to colony health.
Not really about cocktails either. Ashauer:
“The dose makes the poison”. This principle assumes that once a chemical is cleared out of the organism (toxicokinetic recovery), it no longer has any effect. However, it overlooks the other process of re-establishing homeostasis, toxicodynamic recovery, which can be fast or slow depending on the chemical. Therefore, when organisms are exposed to two toxicants in sequence, the toxicity can differ if their order is reversed.
Well, yes, if I’ve already fried my liver then booze will have a different effect than if I have the booze, recover, then fry. But then it’s not really cocktails, is it?
And let’s remind ourselves what the Soil Associations’s original claim was, the one I was commenting upon:
The number of chemicals on supermarket vegetables has increased by up to 17 fold in 40 years, data shows, as the organic food industry and scientists have warned that consumers are exposed to a “toxic cocktail” of pesticides.
Figures released for the first time by the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, show the number of toxic chemicals found in onions, leeks, wheat and potatoes has been steadily increasing since the 1960s.
Well, yes, two studies on bees and one on a crustacean, all about direct exposure to pesticides and none specifically about a cocktail of them nor the effects of, is used as proof that a declining level of pesticides, but more varieties of them, upon supermarket vegetables is a threat to human health.
Up to a point Lord Copper, up to a point.
Given this, a scientist at the conference was asked what people should do, and he said the only way to minimise pesticide intake was to eat organic food.
Well, yes, when considering the cocktail of natural and man-made pesticides in food eating only organic will reduce your pesticide exposure by perhaps 0.1%, maybe 0.01%.
So, hands up all who believe My Lord Melchett is attempting to advance science here and how many think he’s the head of a trade union for organic farmers trying to big up the practice?