How could corn have become a poison? The answer is simple: it contains biocides. Biocides have always existed in nature and have always infested human food crops, sometimes causing disease and death. An example is aflatoxin, which is produced by the fungus aspergillus flavus, and which can cause cancer when it infests peanuts and similar crops.
Now, in the late modern era, when poverty, hunger, and their effects may have caused more than the usual suffering, policy-makers responded by starting the green revolution, which was intended to lower the price of food and to ease world hunger. Unfortunately, this vision and late modern trends have converged to turn much of the world’s food supply into a radical and reckless experiment in which biocides are widely applied to food crops. Even as biocide use imperils the web of life, it continues to escalate.
In my case, biocides seem to have caused nearly two decades of constant suffering in the form of myalgic encephalomyelitis, that is, chronic fatigue syndrome. In other people it may appear as another of the emerging epidemics, such as fibromyalgia, autism, attention deficit disorder, gulf war syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, or yet-to-be named maladies of the microbiome.
As with other environmental and occupational ailments, biocide poisoning can be recognized by the effects of cleansing diets followed by biocide challenges. At this point in time, if you are suffering from any mysterious ailment or from one of the emerging epidemics, you may wish to prudently test yourself by using the Vega diet in consultation with your regular medical doctor and then doing a challenge test based on your intuition or experience as to what foods may be harming you.
Biocide poisoning is likely to be like cigarette smoking in that it may cause a variety of health problems, and to be unlike cigarette smoking in being very difficult to assess. You can see why this is the case if you look at my experience, which was influenced by cofactors and on comorbidity. In other words, when I became disabled I was eating conventional foods that contained biocides. I was also living in an area rich in natural molds, mildews, and fungi; living in a moldy house in a damp area; and working in a sick building. While my liver and kidneys seemed to break down the biocides from these sources into fat-soluble neurotoxins stored in my fat, the rates of break down seem in retrospect to have varied with factors that alter liver metabolism, such as drinking wine and using chemicals for painting, cleaning, and yard work. Similarly, their effects were altered by the combined effects of biocides, allergens, and infections, which gave rise to asthma, rash, and complex food intolerances. Taken together, they affected every organ system of my flesh, my entire sevenfold body, and my life, and yet I could not have measured my exposure well with any available test.
Now, when I eat biocides, and my system is clear of cofactors like chemicals and viruses, and I am not taking pills that suppress stomach acids or otherwise interfere with biocide deactivation, I can feel their effects on my nervous system. I cannot feel them seeding cancer; but in my experience few people, if any, can sense such things. If you have an illness that is related to biocides, you too may be able to feel their neurotoxic effects, at the least.
When I told my son of my experience with corn oil, he wondered if I should sue a company that profits from biocides. I told him that that wouldn’t help. Lawsuits tend to substitute for change, dividing people into perps on the one hand and victims on the other, and fostering aggression and helplessness instead of creativity and change. Besides, those companies that make the agents of biological warfare that we now apply to food crops use the war paradigm, and expect attacks and collateral damage. Lawsuits enable those expectations. Furthermore, if laws and lawsuits could force companies to behave ethically and responsibly, companies would all behave like Smith and Hawken, Odwalla, Sounds True, or Patagonia.
I would personally point the finger of blame elsewhere, that is, at modernism, especially the late modern era. While it may be a precious part of our species’ necessary past, its time is finished. Fortunately, a new era is already emerging, and we can all make it a good one by learning from our mistakes and resolving to engage in change in order to do what we can to make it better for the next generation.
Luckily for those of us with biocide poisoning, visionary organic farmers have been forming food chains that support the web of life, including human life. Unluckily, as some of these farmers face the pressures of the marketplace, they turn to biocides that they can rationalize as “natural” and safe. And, people who underestimate the art and science of farming are engaging in permaculture and urban farming that may form chains that do not support the web of life. It takes skill and experience to properly cultivate healthy living soil and to avoid inadvertently including biocides and pollutant cofactors in the foods that we share and eat.
To be a wise farmer now requires mastery of old time skills like weather forecasting, modern ones like finance, and new ideas like those described by Masanobu Fukokua in Sowing Seeds in the Desert. Even with heirloom seeds and the tender loving care of responsible farmers, it will not be easy to create a food supply that is free of existing hazards on the one hand and of added ones on the other. It will be no easier for the rest of us to learn how to take responsibility and authority for our bodies and our lives, to observe them closely in the context of the big picture, to relate well to risk, and to change our ways with every passing day.
Next Time: In Praise of the Case Study: Modern Research Methods Are Failing
To consider the cautionary story of DDT, you can read the classic Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. To update your knowledge, you can read an article on fusarium infestation of legumes, examine cautions given to workers who apply biocides to crops, note the known effects of selected biocides, consider what is known of others, and note research that shows biocides impacting human cells. To learn more about the problems of modern agriculture, you compare this article on biocide resistance in Scientific American to another by Janet Raloff in Science News. Note, when you finish browsing, you may want to remove your browser’s cookies as sites on biocides tend to be blocked or to place unwanted cookies.
To see the story of DDT and the late modern era through the lens of an artist, you can watch Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. For information and inspiration about paradigm change, you can read Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest or Yvon Chouinard’s Let my People Go Surfing.