Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. Because state and municipal laws vary greatly, as do the circumstances of individual cases, readers are advised to contact an attorney for specific legal advice. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.

“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Once upon a time I was at an age that could be measured by a single digit, and a height where the crown of my head, when standing, barely reached level with my mother’s stomach. Meals were usually made from scratch, healthy, and not filled with microplastics. Nor with pesticides. At least not to the extent they are today. The total expenditures for pesticides increased tenfold between 1945 and 1972 (1). In fact, the total production of pesticides in 1945 was below 100 million pounds, but it jumped to about 300 million pounds by 1950 and then again by 1960 to over 600 million pounds (2).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “approximately 5-10 percent of corn, wheat, and cotton acres were treated with herbicides in 1952. By 1980, herbicide use had reached 90-99 percent of U.S. corn, cotton, and soybean acres planted. Notably, the four most heavily used active ingredients in 2008 (glyphosate, atrazine, acetochlor, and metolachlor) were all herbicides” (3). You don’t need much imagination to estimate the percentages today—as well as the increased quantities dumped on our edible crops—in the year 2023. We are increasingly poisoning ourselves and something must be done about it soon.

In fact, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United States each and every year, while approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide (4). On January 24, 2017, the United Nations (UN) published a report in which it stated that although pesticide use has correlated with a rise in food production, it has had catastrophic impacts upon human health and the environment. The report went on to say that “increased food production has not succeeded in eliminating hunger worldwide. Reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the rights to adequate food and health for present and future generations.” Even the UN blames pesticides for poisoning 200,000 people each year (5). I think that figure is very conservative (6).

The Pesticide Industry’s only concern is making money. Lots of it. In the U.S. alone, pesticide revenue is about $15 billion per year. In the entire World, it stands at $103.5 billion per year (as of 2020). So, keeping that income stream flowing is the pesticide industry’s main concern and the reason why they predominate, for example, at each meeting of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues. The pesticide industry isn’t present at these meetings because they are concerned about consumer health; they are present because they want to make sure that the pesticide-residue standards are not so restrictive as to hurt their pesticide sales. And that applies to each and every important government agency around the World.


Touted as an all-purpose weed killer, glyphosate tops the list of poisons applied every day to plants and soil that in turn destroy humans, animals, and our environment. Some 9.4 million tons of glyphosate have been spread on our fields. It is in our water table, our soil, crops, the food industry, and over 90% of Westerners have it in their bodies and even breastmilk. In fact, 33% of our bread contains glyphosate, the World’s biggest selling weed killer (7). Despite industry assurances that glyphosate is “safe” and “environmentally friendly,” we know that glyphosate is nothing more than a replay of DDT and other toxic “ecocides” with their similar pronouncements of “certified safe” and “completely harmless” (8). Some experts attribute tens of thousands of deaths to glyphosate usage (9).

Worse, as Sayer Ji, Founder of GreenMedInfo and National Health Federation (NHF) advisor, has said, glyphosate is poisoning our soil, destroying our gut biome, and laying the foundation for destroying our ability to produce healthy foods for future generations (10). The industry and regulatory explanation for glyphosate safety is that glyphosate kills weeds through a mechanism (the shikimate pathway) that is not present in humans and animals (11). However, conveniently ignored is the fact that the shikimate pathway is present in the beneficial bacteria that dominate human and animal gut biomes. Glyphosate preferentially destroys these beneficial gut bacteria, thereby allowing disease and inflammation to take hold in humans and animals (12).

The science against glyphosate is compelling. In 2008, a study by two eminent Swedish oncologists, Dr. Leonard Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson, revealed clear links between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (13). This study supported the earlier findings of a Danish team that showed Roundup® caused chromosome aberrations; and of course, the principal active component in Roundup® is glyphosate (14). And one of its inactive ingredients is arsenic.

A few years later, a study in Argentina of 65,000 people in farming communities found their cancer rates to be two-to-four times higher than the national average, especially in breast-, prostate-, and lung-cancer rates. Not surprisingly, Roundup® was sprayed in those communities. In comparing two distinct farming communities (one that had sprayed Roundup® and another that had not), researchers discovered that 31% of the residents in the Roundup®-sprayed community had had a family member with cancer while in the unsprayed community only 3% had had a family member with cancer (15).

Still later, in March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finished and published its evaluation of published, peer-reviewed data on glyphosate (16). Based on its review of the data, the Agency reasonably concluded that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen” and that glyphosate-based herbicides can induce oxidative damage. Oxidative damage has in turn been shown to cause cancer (17).

Tragically, in 2017, the European Commission (EC) approved glyphosate for use in the EU until December 15, 2022, following misguided positive assessments by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) (18). The approval was extended in December 2022 for one year until December 15, 2023 (19).


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), paraquat is a toxic chemical that was first put on the market in 1961 and is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control (20). It is one of the most toxic herbicides in the World, with studies showing that chronic paraquat exposure increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 200-600 percent, not to even mention lung fibrosis (21). It is already banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.

In the United States, paraquat is available primarily as a liquid in various strengths. The country’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies paraquat as “restricted use,” which means that it can be used only by licensed applicators. Paraquat is so highly poisonous that it can only be legally marketed in the United States with a blue dye (to keep it from being confused with beverages such as coffee), a foul odor to serve as a warning, and a chemical agent to cause vomiting should anyone drink it. This is a nasty, deadly herbicide that has no place in the environment.

Christina Stucker-Gassi, healthy food and farms manager at the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, agrees, “Keeping paraquat on the market is endangering human health and sending the wrong message to farmers that need support for developing new strategies for weed management.”

The EPA Downplays Pesticide Harm

Reducing and even eliminating pesticide residues in food and feeds is something that the NHF—the World’s oldest health-freedom organization—and other activist groups have fought for domestically and, in the case of NHF, at Codex meetings where these pesticide standards are “harmonized” worldwide, adopted by national regulators, and then are subject to international trade enforcement by the World Trade Organization (22).

Typically, national legislation to protect our health from toxic chemicals has failed to live up to its promises. The creation of the EPA in 1970 was supposedly a step in the right direction; but, as with all regulatory agencies, it has long since been captured by the pesticide and other chemical industries and marches to their tune instead. You cannot count on protection by the EPA, which is exactly what led Senator Cory Booker to launch his latest legislative effort to force the EPA to actually do its job.

The Booker Bill

This year, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)—supported by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Brian Schatz—has commendably reintroduced in the 118th Congress legislation called the “Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act of 2023” (23). Unlike most Congressional bills, this proposed legislation has a title that actually means what it says. This bill intends to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), to ban organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos and malathion (linked to brain-development and cancer issues in children), neonicotinoid insecticides (linked to a decline in pollinators), and the weed killer paraquat (known to cause Parkinson’s disease and lung fibrosis). It also closes loopholes that the pesticide industry has historically exploited to keep selling its dangerous products and requires the EPA to prioritize reassessing dozens of hazardous products banned in the European Union or Canada. The bill does not, however, address all problems with all pesticides, with glyphosate representing one such pesticide not directly targeted in the Booker bill. But, Booker’s bill is a long-overdue and necessary start. 

As NHF lobbyist Charles Frohman has observed, “With the consumer explosion in demand for food that’s organic, local and non-GMO, it shocks Americans to learn that EPA regulation of pesticides and herbicides still allows 85 of such toxic products to be used in America when they are banned in the European Union (24). And while local communities have banned chemical fertilizers in parks and public lands, politicians are seeking in the 2023 Farm Bill to preempt local governments from protecting themselves from such toxins (25). We need, then, Senator Cory Booker’s ‘Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act’ to limit some pesticides and protect local communities’ power to replace pesticides with organic land management and pest preventive building management practices.”

Time to Act

Frohman has also aptly commented that, “as the widespread success of natural, organic land care practices has shown, toxic pesticides are not needed to maintain agricultural productivity, beautiful landscapes, or quality of life. Let’s act to protect farmworkers, the families buying produce, and the environment from these dangerous pesticides.”

One of the several things that I personally like about the Booker bill is that it has some hard-and-fast excluding provisions that if the EPA does not take action within a certain relatively short time period, then the pesticide that had been allowed for use in the United States would be suspended and/or banned from use here. It also confers private rights of action to doubly ensure that the pesticides cannot slime their way past any EPA or other restrictions against their use. Very admirably, there’s no wimpy language in this bill.

For that very reason then, this Booker bill may suffer the same fate as the pesticide-restricting bill that he introduced in the previous Congress where it died from lack of support. We all need to make sure that this time Senator Booker’s bill passes. Please write to your congress critter and let them know that this is top-priority legislation, which you support and they must too. NHF has made it easy for you to do that; simply go to https://thenhf.com/campaigns/ where you can quickly sign off on a letter that will be sent to your representatives. Then spread the word to others so that they can do the same. This legislation is long overdue. Let’s just act as if our lives depend upon it, because they actually do. WF

Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.


  1.  “Farming in the 1950s & 60s,” Wessels Living History Farm, at The Golden Age of Pesticides during the 1950s (livinghistoryfarm.org).

  2. Ibid.

  3. Fernandez-Cornejo J, Nehring R, Osteen C, et al., “Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008,” USDA, May 2014, p.2, at Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008 (usda.gov).

  4. Michael C.R. Alavanja, “Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide,” Rev Environ Health, 2009 Oct-Dec; 24(4): 303-309.

  5. Ryan Rifai, “UN: 200,000 die each year from pesticide poisoning,” Al-Jazeera, March 8, 2017.

  6. Even the Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) stated that “pesticides and harmful chemicals cause more than 900,000 deaths annually.” See WECF, “Pesticides and harmful chemicals cause more than 900,000 deaths annually,” WECF website, Oct. 10, 2012, at http://www.wecf.eu/english/articles/2012/10/pesticides-africa.php.

  7. David Noakes, “The Glyphosate Killer,” Health Freedom News, Summer 2016, Vol. 34, No. 2, at p. 30.

  8. Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Toxic Combo of Roundup and Fertilizers Blamed for Tens of Thousands of Deaths,” Mercola.com, April 8, 2014, at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/08/roundup-fertilizer.aspx.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Sayer Ji, “Roundup Herbicide Linked to Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria,” Health Freedom News, Spring 2013, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 12-13.

  11. More specifically, glyphosate binds to and blocks the activity of an enzyme called enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS). This enzyme is an essential part of the shikimic-acid pathway; and by blocking this pathway, the plant is unable to make proteins that are necessary for growth.

  12. Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Roundup and Glyphosate Toxicity Have Been Grossly Underestimated,” Mercola.com, July 30, 2013, at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/30/glyphosate-toxicity.aspx.

  13. Eriksson M, Hardell L, Carlberg M, Akerman M, “Pesticide exposure as risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma including histopathological subgroup analysis,” Int J Cancer, 2008 Oct 1;123(7):1657-63. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23589, at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18623080.

  14. Rank J, Jensen A-G, Skov B, et al., “Genotoxicity testing of the herbicide Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate isopropylamine using the mouse bone marrow micronucleus test, Salmonella mutagenicity test, and Allium anaphase-telophase test,” Mutation Research, 300 (1993) 29-36, at https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/pdf/monsanto-documents/johnson-trial/PTX-0852-Genotoxicity-Roundup-Study-1992.pdf.

  15. Jeff Ritterman, “Monsanto’s Roundup Linked to Cancer – Again,” Truthout, Oct 6, 2014, at https://truthout.org/articles/monsanto-s-roundup-linked-to-cancer/.

  16. Baum Hedlund Law Firm blog, “Glyphosate Herbicide,” BaumHedlundlaw.com, 2019, at https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/toxic-tort-law/monsanto-roundup-lawsuit/what-is-glyphosate-herbicide/

  17. See, e.g., Oberley TD, “Oxidative Damage and Cancer,” Am J Pathol, 2002 Feb; 160(2): 403-408, at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1850635/.

  18. “COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) 2017/2324 of 12 December 2017,” Official Journal of the European Commission, Document 32017R2324, at https:// eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32017R2324.

  19.  EFSA, “Glyphosate,” at Glyphosate | EFSA (europa.eu).

  20.  “Facts About Paraquat,” CDC, last updated April 12, 2018, at https:// emergency.cdc.gov/agent/paraquat/basics/facts.asp.

  21. News Release, “Senate to Consider Legislation to Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides –

Sen. Booker Reintroduces Overdue Updates to Pesticide Law,” Center for Biological Diversity, Feb 2, 2023, at https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/senate-to-consider-legislation-to-protect-americas-children-from-toxic-pesticides-2023-02-02/.

  1.  Scott Tips, “Codex Alimentarius Commission Advances Toxic Vet-Drug and Bee-Killer Pesticide Standards,” Health Freedom News, Dec 30, 2022, at https://thenhf.com/codex-alimentarius-commission-advances-toxic-vet-drug-and-bee-killer-pesticide-standardsSee also Scott Tips, “It’s Official, Courtesy Of Codex – Spiders, Ticks, And Lice For Breakfast, Oh My!,” Whole Foods Magazine, July 21, 2022, at https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/legal-tips/its-official-courtesy-of-codex-spiders-ticks-and-lice-for-breakfast-oh-my/.

  2. See www.booker.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/protect_americas_children_from_toxic_pesticides_act1.pdf.

  3. Nathan Donley & Karen McCormack, “The reckless embrace of banned pesticides in the US,” Environmental Health News, Jan 5, 2021, at https://www.ehn.org/banned-pesticides-allowed-in-us--2649743719.html.

  4.  “Industry, Money, and Politics Drive Legislation to Squelch Local Pesticide Restrictions,” Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2022, at https:// beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2022/04/industry-money-and-politics-drives-legislation-to-squelch-local-pesticide-restrictions/.