As if we needed any more evidence that pesticides are bad for human health, three independent scientific papers have provided some of the strongest evidence yet of the link between exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides and lower IQ levels among children. Published in the latest Environmental Health Perspectives journal, the results suggest that prenatal exposure to OPs can have a lasting and damaging effect on our children. Researchers from the University of California, Columbia University, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine all found that children exposed to higher levels of OP while in the womb were likely to have significantly lower intelligence scores by age seven than children who were not exposed.
Farmers of Israel, Palestine and Jordan are utilizing an alternative method of pest control: birds of prey. Owls and kestrels are now being courted with nests and plentiful hunting grounds, that they may serve as a "natural" means to keep the rodent population in check. Previously, rodenticides had been sprayed on crops to deter the pests. This proved fatal to hundreds of birds of prey - including many endangered species - that died after eating the poisoned animals. Quests for an alternative method ultimately led to a government-funded program encouraging the erection of nesting boxes for owls and kestrels - birds whose complementary hunting patterns result in 24-hour rodent control. A kibbutz, or farming village, in the Bet-She'an Valley was one of the first to employ this method in 1983. The practice has now blossomed into a partnership between three countries, multiple charities, scientists and farmers, in an effort to reduce the amount of chemical pesticides used on middle eastern farms.