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Article
April 23, 1997

Our Children's Toxic Legacy: How Science and Law Fail to Protect Us From Pesticides

Author Affiliations

University of Maryland College Park

 

by John Wargo, 380 pp, with illus, $30, ISBN 0-300-06686-4, New Haven, Conn, Yale University Press, 1996.

JAMA. 1997;277(16):1329-1330. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540400081047

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Abstract

Pesticides are highly toxic substances whose typical intended use requires concentrated uncontained environmental release. They are sprayed into the air, poured into water, applied to soils, plants, animals, and foodstuffs, and incorporated into household and workplace materials. All pesticides harm nontargeted species and strains. Most persist longer than desired. Many accumulate along the food chain or concentrate in food processing. Some are degraded or metabolized into substances of enhanced toxicity. Any pesticide may to some degree mix with other pesticides, with or without transformation, and their combinations may then have new effects, additive or synergistic, unwanted or unrecognized, or both.

More than a century into the history of pesticide use and decades into the era of pesticide-use acceleration, greater than a third of yearly food and fiber production worldwide is still lost to pests. For some heavily embattled crops, the rate of loss and the rate of pesticide treatment have

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