DDT was thought to be a miracle pesticide. By the late 1950s over half a pound per person was sprayed in the United States (Caban). Although DDT had positive impacts on the U.S., such as eliminating malaria outbreaks, in 1962 Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, quickly grabbed peoples attention, changing ideology on the use of the pesticide DDT. Carson argued that allowing DDT to soak into the soil and the drinking water has health repercussions for humans (class, Salerno). She also explained the idea that overuse of DDT in agriculture will eventually allow malaria-spreading mosquitoes to develop resistance to DDT and other pesticides. Once this happens, malaria spraying would become useless and the problem will backfire and get worse. This would force health officials to change to the use of more dangerous pesticides. Carson shed light on the notion that DDT and other pesticides have serious health effects on humans and their ecosystems Due to Silent Spring, people demanded the regulation os industry in order to protect the environment, hence the birth of environmentalism. In 1970 the Environmental Protection Agency was created, which banned DDT’s use in the United States. Overall, this time period led to major environmental changes such as the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 and The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Class, Salerno); however, pesticides are still a part of everyday life today.
Every time you take a bite of an apple, or dig into a salad, do you think about what that food was treated with before you got it? Probably not. Triflumizole is a common fungicide used in agriculture on foods we eat frequently (Brown). This chemical eliminates fungi from killing crops and is also found in plastics used to distribute our foods. However, it also is being researched and criticized for causing obesity. More than two-thirds of America’s population is either overweight or obese (Brown). This weight epidemic is generally just associated with overeating or inactivity. The next step was research on mice. A group of researchers, Xia Li, Hang T Pham, Amanda Janesick, and Bruce Blumberg,
realized that there is not just a human weight inclination, but animals as well are becoming obese. Evidence shows that pets, laboratory mice, primates, and cats living in human societies also are showing increased obesity rates (Li,1722). The researchers suggest that environmental obesogens may be playing a role. Bruce Blumberg, a developmental biologist at the University of California, defined the term obesogen in a 2006 journal article as “chemicals that cause animals to store fat” (Li, 1720). Obesogens may also act indirectly on obesity by controlling appetite, satiety, or metabolism (Brown). This led to researchers identifying the common agricultural chemical that appears to act as an obesogen: triflumizole. Through experiments these researchers claim this pesticide is an obesogen because, “it nudges gene expression and stem cell differentiation toward becoming a fat cell” (Brown).
In the most recent study, investigators exposed mouse stem cells to triflumizole. Stem cells can differentiate into bone, cartilage, or fat cells (Brown). There was an increase in obesity-related genes increased in treated cells from the mice. They suggest that future studies should include “biomonitoring of triflumizole levels in humans and an investigation of transgenerational effects and epigenetic mechanisms related to the chemical’s potential influence on obesity” (Li, 1725). This means that they believe more research should be done to determine how genes of effected cases of triflumizole will effect future generations. Further research in this could prove this pesticide we are using today could have negative effects on people when they are ingested through food being produced, just like Carson argued in Silent Spring.
Cristobal S. Berry-Caban. “DDT and Silent Spring: Fifty Years after.” JMVH. Australasian Military Medicine Association, n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.
Brown, Valerie J. “EHP – Potential Obesogen Identified: Fungicide Triflumizole Is Associated with Increased Adipogenesis in Mice.” EHP. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.
Li, Xia, Hang T. Pham, Amanda S. Janesick, and Bruce Blumberg. “Triflumizole Is an Obesogen in Mice That Acts through Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Gamma (PPARγ).” Environ Health Perspect Environmental Health Perspectives (2012): n. pag. Web.