Trochet Propaganda?

    Judging from her statements, Dr. Glennah Trochet, public health officer for Sacramento County through mid-September of 2011, seems to be acting more as a spokesperson for the chemical and pesticide industries than as an official whose primary responsibility is the health and welfare of the public.

    At the Sacramento City Council meeting on August 9, 2007, Trochet stated that "Even with DDT they did not find major problems for humans.  It was lots of problems with birds and other things but not with humans."  An entomologist who works with us begs to differ, as he says that "DDT was banned before the full impact of chronic exposure on human nervous function was delineated.  It is most distinctly not harmless to humans, but it may be that no acute poisoning was ever attributed to DDT.  The serious impact of DDT is on developing nervous systems -- children and embryonic development.  Additionally, halogenated benzene is notoriously carcinogenic, so DDT and its degradation products are at least somewhat cancer causing.  Meanwhile, DDT, being an organochlorine, would fall into the category recently implicated in autism." 

    In addition, formal studies expose dangers of DDT to humans.  For example, a recent study draws a direct link between exposure to DDT early in life and breast cancer.  Another study associates prenatal exposure to DDT with neurodevelopmental delays during early childhood.  We are at a loss to understand how DDT does not pose "major problems for humans."  The only question seems to be how many decades out of date Trochet's view is.

    Also, on PBR's "Insight" on July 31, 2007, Trochet stated that "pesticides are an integral part of the American way of life."  We think, however, that the growing numbers of people who eat and grow organic foods would beg to differ.  She also said that "the reason that we have such an abundance of food that is essentially safe is because of pesticides."  This is not at all clear to people who eat and grow organic foods, and serious questions are being raised about what commercial agriculture and pesticides are doing to beneficial insects and the basic life of our soil.  A September 15, 2007, Sacramento Bee article discusses a report commissioned by the Breast Cancer Fund, which indicates that "American girls are entering puberty at earlier ages, putting them at far greater risk for breast cancer later in life and for all sorts of social and emotional problems well before they reach adulthood."  Hailed as a "superb review of what we know," a number of possible causes are listed, including environmental/chemical exposures, which include exposures to pesticides. 

    Certainly Michael Pollan argues convincingly in The Omnivore's Dilemma that current practices with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides cannot continue, with 10 petroleum calories being used to produce 1 food calorie in many cases.  This "integral part of the American way of life" may have to change and change quickly.

    Given these seemingly very unbalanced and/or incorrect statements about pesticides, we wondered what Trochet's background might be.  We learned that in 2002 she had contacted a group called the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), which has received support from the extremely conservative Scaife Foundation and is also heavily funded by the chemical and pesticide industries. Not surprisingly, ACSH advocates the return of DDT as a pesticide and a member of their board even wants to use DDT to combat West Nile virus. As stated on their website, Trochet contacted the ACSH for the purpose of using one of their documents to "educate" the public about exposure to carcinogens (it is a little more than halfway down the page and the heading is "ACSH Cancer Clusters Report and Intern Receive Recognition.")

    Source Watch has more information about ACSH, including a list of their funders, which reads like a who's who of oil giants and chemical companies.