Insecticides lindane, DDT linked to cancer: WHO

Updated 24 June 2015

Insecticides lindane, DDT linked to cancer: WHO

LONDON: The insecticide lindane, once widely used in agriculture and to treat human lice and scabies, causes cancer and has been specifically linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also said that DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, probably causes cancer, with scientific evidence linking it to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), testicular cancer and liver cancer.
In a review of various agricultural chemicals, IARC’s specialist panel said it had decided to classify lindane as “carcinogenic to humans” in its Group 1 category, DDT as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in its Group 2A class, and the herbicide 2,4-D as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in its Group 2B.
It said epidemiological studies did not find strong or consistent increases in risk of NHL or other cancers from 2,4-D exposure, but there was strong evidence it induces oxidative stress, a process that can damage cells in the body, and moderate evidence it can suppress the immune system.
Lindane, which since 2009 has been banned or restricted in most countries under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, was previously used extensively for insect control in agriculture.

An exemption to the ban allows it to be used as a second-line treatment for lice and scabies.
IARC said high exposures to lindane have previously been reported among agricultural workers and pesticide applicators.
“Large epidemiological studies of agricultural exposures in the United States and Canada showed a 60 percent increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in those exposed to lindane,” it said.
DDT was introduced for the control of insect-borne diseases during World War Two and was later applied widely to eradicate malaria and in agriculture.
Although most uses of it were banned from the 1970s, IARC cautioned that DDT and its breakdown products are “highly persistent and can be found in the environment and in animal and human tissues throughout the world”.
“Exposure to DDT still occurs, mainly through diet,” it said, adding that DDT is still used, mainly for malaria control in parts of Africa, although under very strict conditions.
Since it was introduced in 1945, 2,4-D has been widely used to control weeds in agriculture, forestry and urban and residential settings.
IARC said occupational exposure to 2,4-D can occur during manufacturing and application, and people in the general population can be exposed through food, water, dust, or residential application, and during spraying.

Farm to table: Lebanese initiative ‘From the Villages’ celebrates local talent 

Updated 20 October 2020

Farm to table: Lebanese initiative ‘From the Villages’ celebrates local talent 

DUBAI: In an act of solidarity with Lebanon’s villagers, farmers and local artisans, a group of innovative Lebanese graduates are operating an online platform that provides a wide array of their homemade products and crafts to those residing mainly in Beirut, as well as other cities across the country. 

At a time when a number of businesses were closing down, “From the Villages” was born from the COVID-19 lockdown in May. It all started through a fateful conversation between a few individuals who wanted to share good quality produce and foods from their southern, fertile village of Deir Mimas with others.

“Because people in their villages don’t find markets to sell (at), we thought why don’t we sell this food online?” the e-platform’s managing partner Hani Touma told Arab News. “By using technology and having a platform, they can sell their products and reach a wider range of customers.” 

The team designed their website and launched a couple of days later, with a few available items. Today, its offerings have expanded and clients can access a variety of 25 product categories, which include herbs, dairies, jams, olives, syrups, distillates, soaps and pottery. An eco-friendly project, all of the products are minimally packaged and locally made by nearly 50 artisans and farmers, living in 20 villages, mostly from the south.  

“We’re working with real household people,” said Touma. “Some of the ladies that we work with are 60, 70 years old and this is their only job. It started as a fun project and now it’s growing. We’re helping a lot of the suppliers and they’re having regular income, although it’s going up and down because of the economic situation in Lebanon.” 

Prior to the spread of COVID-19, Lebanon was already suffering from decades-long mismanagement and a financial crisis, in which citizens couldn’t access their bank savings, unemployment and inflation spiked and the Lebanese Lira devalued exponentially. 

In addition, Lebanon stands far from its full potential when it comes to local agricultural production as it imports more than 80 percent of its food items. The efforts of Touma, his business partner Sari Hawa, along with their tightly knit team of experts, are amongst the latest aiming to cultivate a culture of homegrown food concepts through grassroots initiatives.  

“Now, even the products imported have started to be missing from the supermarkets,” explained Touma. “I think this was why ‘From the Villages’ grew very fast, because people were not able to find some of their food – like jams, for example. They were all imported from outside. But now, you have a local product available directly at your doorstep.”

Following the deadly Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4, the “From the Villages” team suspended operations for a month and is currently slowly picking up again by carrying out deliveries twice per week. “Everything is working against us,” said Touma, “but we’re trying to stay on the ground and fix everything.”