and Baliga conducted an exhaustive survey of existing health science
literature on the impacts of pesticides on immune system function,
including laboratory studies of animals and epidemiological studies
of people, and supplemented that with reviews of previously unpublished
and/or confidential data on pesticide use patterns worldwide.
report that the mortality rate from the common infectious diseases,
already by far the biggest killer in developing nations, may be
driven in part by pesticide exposure. Existing studies makes this
highly plausible but are insufficient for definitive proof. What
is clear is that pesticides do impair immune system function in
specific cases, sometimes severely, and that the impact of this
additional immunosuppression may be the final straw for people already
vulnerable to infectious diseases.
are particularly susceptible to the effects of pesticides on their
immune systems. In the agricultural districts of central Moldova,
where pesticides have been used heavily, 80 percent of healthy children
had suppressed immunity. Children from these areas were three times
more likely to have infectious diseases of the digestive tract,
and two to five times more likely to have infectious diseases of
the respiratory tract. Workers in pesticide factories and on farms
in the area exhibited elevated rates of infectious diseases of the
digestive, urinary, respiratory, and female genital tracts."
commenting on his findings, Dr. Repetto observed that; "New research
may well show that the most widespread public health threat from
pesticides is immunosuppression that weakens the body's resistance
to infectious diseases and to cancers. We are calling on the World
Health Organization to spearhead a large-scale research program
into links between pesticides and damage to the immune system, and
on major pesticide companies, multilateral banks, and the W.H.O.'s
member governments to finance this important public health campaign."