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Pesticides Linked To Neurological Disease

Sulphate sprayers moving through a vineyard in Macau, near Bordeaux, 2012
© AFP/Jean Pierre Muller | Sulphate sprayers moving through a vineyard in Macau, near Bordeaux, 2012
A study in Bordeaux has grim news for vineyard workers.

Vineyard workers and farmers in southwest France who have been exposed to pesticides during their working life suffer from reduced levels of brain activity, new research has found.

The study was done by Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety.

“The tests confirmed that there was a deterioration in cognitive ability in those exposed to pesticides,” said Dr Isabelle Baldi, a specialist in occupational health at the University of Bordeaux Segalen.

Viticulturists in Bordeaux exposed to pesticides and fungicides as well as agricultural workers were tested three times over 12 years. “Reactions naturally slowed with age but even more so for those exposed [to pesticides],” said Baldi.

The third in the series of tests are ongoing and will allow researchers to follow the decline of those exposed to pesticides and the eventual appearance of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

A link between Parkinson’s disease and the use of pesticides was officially recognized by the French government in May. This degenerative neurological disorder, which has affected film star Michael J Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali, has now been classified as a work-related illness for agricultural workers. 

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  • Comments

    Vinucator wrote:
    25-Sep-2013 at 14:55:56 (GMT)

    You want answers? Here you are. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-pesticides-can-cause-parkinsons

  • NZ Weed science PhD wrote:
    01-Jun-2012 at 11:43:15 (GMT)

    I haven't read the French research referred to in this article but there has been some excellent work on the topic by Caudle's group at Emory University in Atlanta, particularly their recent review article: Caudle et al., (2012) Industrial toxicants and Parkinson's disease. Neurotoxicology 33 (2) 178-88. Also Caudle et al., (2012) Parkinson's disease and environment: beyond pesticides. Neurotoxicology 33 (3) 585.

  • VineyardRep wrote:
    01-Jun-2012 at 05:12:04 (GMT)

    What about the organic pesticides? Has anyone looked at some of the toxicities of those? Yes, there are lots of pesticides registered as organic for those of you who are unfamiliar. Sulfur is one of them. I agree that we should be investigating which exact pesticide (herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide) could be correlated with Parkinsons and Alzheimers. However, media hype like this without founded scientific evidence and specific information only causes unnecessary nervousness in the public's eye. - A California Vineyard PCA (pest control adviser) and PhD in Plant Physiology/Agronomy.

  • Frances Walsh wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 23:45:45 (GMT)

    Wine-Searcher is currently working on a follow-up to this news story. The photograph which accompanies this story was chosen to illustrate vineyard spraying. Just which pesticides and fungicides have been investigated in the 12-year study will be addressed in our upcoming feature. Editor.

  • rpm wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 23:41:13 (GMT)

    Any pesticide? I take it there is a statistical correlation--which by itself only means that there is a correlation. Not necessarily causation. IMO, this article is worse than useless. What pesticides? Please note: I am firmly convinced none of this stuff is good for you and a lot of it can be quite harmful. I have second hand (my father) experience with the ill effects of organic phosphates. Bad news stuff. Irresponsible article, IMO.

  • Jared E wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 18:29:28 (GMT)

    This is about as useful as a Nancy Grace news report.

  • Wine Guy Somoma wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 18:16:26 (GMT)

    Well now, neat photo. Sulpher is not a pesticide is it? For mold. Probably not what the study was about... This should scare the crap out of vineyard neighbors..

  • Linda N. wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 18:05:50 (GMT)

    This article, while sensational, does not help anyone. Did they actually test pesticide exposure, or just vineyard workers vs non-vineyard workers? What pesticides? What exposures? What was the baseline? Compared with whom? When we have knowlege of a product being hazardous to our health, we eliminate it from the arsenal. Do they have the same strict testing and licensing that we have in the US?

  • Nova C. wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 17:33:07 (GMT)

    @Winedude Totally agree. I was thinking the same thing. Can we get some specifics as to which pesticides and fungicides? Are we talking Sulfur here or something a bit more powerful?

  • Winedude wrote:
    31-May-2012 at 17:07:14 (GMT)

    Either this report or the story is incomplete. Are they able to determine which pesticides are responsible for this cognitive degradation? Herbicides...probably not a culprit. Fungicides are a good suspect. Insecticides, esp. organic phosphates and chlorinated hydrocarbons are very high on the list. I'd still like to see something more specific.

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