Billboard along Cornhusker Highway in Lincoln: “Nebraska #1 for Parkinson’s Disease. Why?” That’s the report we got from writer Steve McFadden on the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society listserv last week. McFadden went on to tell us that he looked into that headline further and found that the Nebraska Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association states on its website, “The world’s highest prevalence of Parkinson’s Disease…is in Nebraska… It is possible that there is a very high prevalence of Parkinson’s Disease in Nebraska due to the heavy use of insecticides in what is largely a farming area.”

Possible? In my opinion, it looks more like a smoking gun. There is enough per-reviewed epidemiological research published to remove any doubt in my mind.

Nebraska farmers spray dirt with any number of chemicals in a war against Nature, trying to control how she does things. And it’s not just here in Nebraska. The APDA goes on to note, “Another distinction is Nebraska along with South and North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa are the states with the highest amount of people with Parkinson’s disease in America. These states in the “Heartland Hub” are also known for their agriculture.”

Current methods of industrial agriculture are an affront to common sense and an attack on human health.

Get ready for an epidemic Parkinson’s is an affliction that is not entirely understood. It affects over 10,000 people in Nebraska alone. It is typified by uncontrollable tremors, muscle rigidity and the inability to control the limbs. What is understood is that Parkinson’s involves the nervous system that controls these movements. Attacking the nervous system is something that pesticides are good at.

Many studies have found a direct link between pesticide exposure and Parkinsons. Among the suspect chemicals is one called 2,4-D. One version of this herbicide was infamously known during the Vietnam War era as Agent Orange. At this very moment, the United States Department of Agriculture is studying a proposal put forth by Dow Chemical and Monsanto to allow a new version of 2,4-D and a GMO corn on the market, a type of Agent Orange for farmers.

According to several news sources, Charles Benbrook, formerly of the National Academy of Sciences, said widespread 2,4-D use in American agriculture would rise from 27 million pounds to more than 100 million pounds and the release of 2,4-D soybeans and cotton following corn would boost usage still more.

In a Reuters news filing, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said, “Many studies show that 2,4-D exposure is associated with various forms of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, nerve damage, hormone disruption and birth defects. USDA must take these significant risks seriously and reject approval of this crop.”

With that much more 2,4-D polluting our fields and water sources, along with other implicated pesticides, look for cases of associated diseases such as Parkinson’s to soar.

Farmers in HazMat suits? It’s a fact that American farmers spray such dangerous chemicals on our farm dirt that they have to wear protective clothing known as hazardous material suits or haz-mat suits. Airplanes soar overhead during growing season and the chemicals they spray not only appear at the grocery store with our food but dangerously drift over property lines and destroy crops of neighboring farms. Local laws, including those in the state of Nebraska, protect the sprayers and farmers who hire them but do nothing to protect the farmers who want to raise crops without spraying. Untold numbers of farmers who don’t wish to spray poisons have seen their farms ruined by 2,4-D drift. Many have had to go out of business. If the USDA approves the new genetically modified corn from Monsanto that will increase pesticide use, we’ll have only ourselves to blame unless we act to demand a change in the way our food is grown. Best action to take? Just don’t eat it or buy it. American industry worships profit over people so hitting it in the pocketbook will make a difference. Look at pink slime. Public outcry turned the tables on that for now.

Stupid is as stupid does. Monsanto and Dow say new pesticides and herbicides are needed because new mutations of superweeds and pests have emerged that are resistant to the old poisons. So their answer is to continue down the same path and produce more powerful poisons? It’s an endless loop that will result in the same dictum as the antibiotic-resistant bacteria revelation: In order to stop the mutation of resistant species, we must stop using the anti-life chemicals that spur mutation. Mother Nature wins every time.

Isn’t the definition of insanity supposed to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Well, we’ve been trying to control Nature for millennia. It’s only when we do our best to work in harmony with Her that we see any real progress and a return to sanity.

Be well.

Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at

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