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Valentine pesticides story -- Media sends sweethearts a bouquet of toxic hype

The news media is sending a scary Valentine to American couples. They're claiming that Valentine's Day roses imported from Colombia may have been "dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals," according to the Associated Press. But the only thing toxic this Valentine's Day stems from the boquet of shoddy science sent by the media. No matter how many times pesticide scares are debunked -- from Alar on apples to "deadly" DDT -- the media can't resist stoking fears and diverting attention away from the real risks of insect-borne diseases that pesticides combat. No matter how many authoritative bodies discredit the pesticides-cancer link, the media will give credence to any activist with a scare story. When it comes to pesticides, for the media, everyday is Halloween. But sweethearts shouldn't let the doomsayers ruin their romantic day. As I note in my book Eco-Freaks: Enviromentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health, the National Academy of Sciences says that background human exposure to pesticides is "so low they are unlikely to pose an appreciable cancer risk" and "below which any significant adverse biologic effect is likely." But one adverse effect of the media hyping pesticide scares is that developing countries will be more reluctant to use them to combat deadly insect-borne disease. Mosquito-borne malaria, for instance, kills two million people a year in Africa. Yet even after the World Health Organization recommended the resumption of the use of the pesticide DDT, countries are still averse to using it because of threats of trade sanctions from the United Nations and Euopean Union. This, even though DDT has never been shown to be harmful to humans, and will not even be used in agriculture for export, but to protect Africa's own people against malaria-carrying mosquitoes indoors. This media hype from AP and others is a very nasty Valentine for the media to send both to people who receive flowers and the hard-working farmers who grow them.