Agricultural Pesticides Impact on Children

Congratulations on a job well done! A special thanks goes out to the New Green Alliance (Saskatoon branch) for bringing Dr. Elizabeth Guillette to Saskatchewan in mid-May
to discuss her monumental work on the effects of pesticide exposure on children.

Dr. Guillette is an anthropologist and researcher with the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier Universities in Florida. She has documented the effects of long term exposure to pesticides on the children of the Yaqui Valley in Mexico. Her work was the id Suzuki's documentary "Toxic Legacies" which aired on CBC's "The Nature of Things" in March 2001.

Her study consisted of two groups of Yaqui children who share similar genetic backgrounds, diets, water mineral contents, cultural patterns, and social behaviours. The groups differed in their exposure to agricultural pesticides. Guillette developed a Rapid Assessment Tool for Preschool Children (RATPC) to measure growth and development of the children. She found that children who lived in areas of high pesticide use exhibited
decreased stamina, eye-hand coordination and memory. A group of children who lived in an area where pesticide use was avoided were used as a comparison.

Research done by Dr. Elizabeth Guillette clearly shows that children exposed to agricultural pesticides, "exhibit more neuromuscular and mental defects. In addition the exposed children had symptoms of illness three to four times the rate of the unexposed, with a high rate of upper respiratory infections, suggesting suppressed immune systems."

The lecture evening of May 13 in Regina had a small but committed group to listen as Dr Guillette presented her research. The Saskatoon event May 14 at the University of Saskatchewan campus was well attended and received. It was a wonderful way
to both collaborate with professional researchers and participate with the public in an important educational venture.

While in Saskatchewan Dr. Guillette also had the opportunity to raise awareness of the
pesticide issue with some local media coverage . This included an in interview with CTV's Bob Simpson who hosts the Farmgate program and a spot on John Gormley's controversial radio program.

Thank you to the individual volunteers for all their hard work in organizing this event.
We would also like to extend our thanks to the co-sponsoring organizations who helped make this event a success: Prairie Region Health Promotion Research Centre (U of Sask) ; Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (U of Sask) ; Council of Canadians (Saskatoon Branch); Saskatoon-Parklands Sierra Group, U of Sask Dept of Religious Studies and Anthropology, & the Saskatchewan Environmental Society