The common chemical that could wipe out the human race

I came across a fascinating — and, quite frankly, terrifying — new study recently. It may seem a little off-topic for the Reality Health Check. But I assure you, the implications are very relevant to every human being on this planet.

So believe me when I say that I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. And that I sincerely hope you spread the word.

A team of New Zealand researchers recently published a study on chlorpyrifos — a widely used and highly neurotoxic organophosphate pesticide. Its purpose is to defend industrial crops against insects and mites.

And as usual, it looks like it does that job a little too well. Specifically, chlorpyrifos impacts the learning and memory of honeybees — faculties the bees depend upon to pollinate efficiently.

In other words, chlorpyrifos threatens honeybees’ success and survival as a species.

Sound familiar? It should. An eerily similar trend was discovered among Monarch butterflies that pollinated genetically modified corn crops: They died.

So I have to ask: If bees and butterflies — the very living creatures we need to pollinate our crops so they can grow — are dying, from either the genetic modifications of the crops themselves or the pesticides used on those crops… then what, pray tell, are these industrial farming practices doing to us???

Let’s not forget the rise of GMO farming has essentially been one big experiment. No genetically modified seed or crop had to go through the rigorous process of being determined safe for human consumption.

If that makes you feel like a lab rat, well — you are one. And not just when it comes to the GMO crops themselves, either.

The herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers these farming operations use pose their own serious risks. As I’ve mentioned before, manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the contents of their chemical cocktails beyond the “active” ingredients.

And those “inert” ingredients they’re keeping secret? Well, they’re every bit as harmful.

But let’s get back to the results of this latest study…

As part of their investigation, the researchers measured the pesticide levels of bees from more than 50 hives across 17 locations in southern New Zealand. Then, they exposed laboratory bees to similar amounts of pesticides found in these natural populations, and administered performance tests to assess the effects.

Results showed that chlorpyrifos interfered with the bees’ ability to detect odors, and to recall those smells later on. (Both of these skills are essential for effective foraging and pollination.)

But that’s not even the scariest part. The doses to which these bees were exposed are considered to be safe. In fact, these horrific effects set in at levels thousands of times lower than the so-called “lethal dose.” (Which, it’s worth noting, is the only level governments care a fig about.)

Needless to say, this is a very dangerous predicament.

For one thing, we’re losing our bees. Hive losses now stand at 11 percent in New Zealand — and that’s comparatively low, compared to the 17 percent losses observed in the northern hemisphere.

And this is only the latest in a series of studies suggesting that industrial farming practices may have a hand in colony collapse. If we don’t do something about it soon, I shudder to think what could happen.

Especially since these same scientists previously detected chlorpyrifos in air, water, and plant samples from areas of the country that weren’t sprayed. This pesticide can travel far — and that makes it even more dangerous to the ecosystem.

Whatever your feelings on bees, we need them as an essential part of our food chain. And factors that affect the lowest rungs of our food chain will affect us at some point.

Ultimately, it could lead to the demise of our food supply.

I don’t need to explain what a disaster that would be. But if hypothetical doomsday scenarios aren’t a compelling enough reason to campaign against the use of dangerous farming chemicals, then consider this…

Research clearly suggests that a pregnant woman’s exposure to organophosphates like chlorpyrifos — even at very low levels — can have a direct impact on her fetus. And alter the learning, brain function, and thyroid levels of unborn children well into adulthood.

For all the recent panic over Zika, it’s absurd that a threat like chloripyrifos should continue to be ignored. Our bees deserve better. And so do our children.