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My view: Chemicals affect our babies before they're even born

By Brian Moench, M.D.

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 9 2009 12:12 a.m. MST

My favorite toys as a toddler were a plastic yellow gun and sheriff's badge. The long arm of the law served justice on my brothers and sisters, who got shot hundreds of times a day for a variety of crimes against humanity, or at least crimes against a 3-year-old sheriff in plastic training pants.

Despite the fact I've never owned another gun, and notwithstanding the current popularity of the barbaric "ultimate fighting," I am disturbed by the feminization of male children. I mean that literally, physically. New research shows that baby boys are becoming physically and behaviorally more feminine, probably because of the chemicals that we are all exposed to. This exposure not only is risking our health, but it is literally changing who human beings are.

Humans are environmentally exposed to more than 80,000 chemicals from the pesticides on food, the plastics in packaging, the ingredients in personal care products and the pollution in our water and air. In even minute quantities many of these chemicals mimic or inhibit the function of hormones in our bodies earning the name "endocrine disruptors." In most cases, exposure in the earliest stages of development, the human embryo, has the greatest consequences, which can be broad based, diverse and may become manifest at birth or not until decades later. They include birth defects, diminished intelligence, numerous diseases like cancer, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and heart disease. Many of these endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen, and it doesn't take much to feminize the brain development of a baby boy.

The average newborn baby enters the world on day one with more than 150 endocrine disrupting chemicals in its blood. Virtually every human or animal ever tested has demonstrated contamination with some of these chemicals. They are detectable in the environment at the most remote locations and have become a ubiquitous part of the world's food chain.

Some of these substances were banned decades ago — like DDT and PCBs — but because they break down very slowly they still remain in high levels in our ecosystem. But some of them are still being dumped into the food chain and in ever greater numbers.

Because of the takeover of industrial crop production by Monsanto's "Roundup ready" seeds — genetically modified to survive high doses of the weed killer Roundup — it will be almost impossible for you to buy food without Roundup in it. Almost every crop of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and soon wheat are being drowned repeatedly in Roundup. Research shows that Roundup at a concentration 100,000 times less potent than what is sold on the shelves damages human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

A pregnant mother who participated in a new study assessing these chemicals in her blood said after she found out the results: "That really kills me as a mom. I took the best care I could, yet this was beyond my control. We all live in a toxic dump that we have very little control over, and that's really sad."

A mother's womb should be the safest place on earth. All babies should have the right to be born free of pollution; it should be in the Bill of Rights. Instead, thanks to Monsanto and many other industries, all babies now enter the world pre-polluted. And as yet none of them are "Roundup ready."

Dr. Brian Moench is president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

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