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Our Stolen Future (authors listed within)

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The Management
The Management

Joined: 02 May 2006
Posts: 831

Location: West Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:49 pm    Post subject: Our Stolen Future (authors listed within)  Reply with quote

Our Stolen Future
Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski & John Peterson Myers

Amazon link

I found this book on 22 Dec 2008 in a charity shop.  Normally I would have passed it by and chosen something else, but the information on the back of the book reminded me of some notes I’d made literally two nights beforehand, so I decided to buy it after all.  It took me a while to get around to reading it (I had some other books I wanted to read first) but when I finally did start reading I was drawn into it from the first paragraph, and hooked by the second.

Admittedly, because this book was published in 1996, some of the information may be out of date, but there is an up to date website to run alongside the book with current information and news which can be found here:

Chapter synopsis and excerpts:

This is the kind of book that really gets you thinking and interested in finding out more (well it is for me anyway lol)  During reading the entire book I was torn between scepticism and grudging belief, on the one hand the book could be an overreaction and classed as “scare mongering”, but on the other hand the evidence is well presented and very compelling.  Although I don’t have a strong scientific background, I was able to understand the points the author was getting across without having to do any mental somersaults or additional research.  

Basically, in a nutshell, the book follows the progress of scientists investigating fertility and other problems such as aggression and lack of parenting instincts occurring in animals across the world.  The scientists have found that hormonally active synthetic chemicals can affect all sorts of aspects of life by disrupting the endocrine system, causing problems from gestation right through to adulthood, in both animals and humans.  These chemicals can be found in all sorts of things, from man made chemicals to plants, but the dangerous ones are the man made chemicals as they don’t break down as the natural ones do and they end up staying in the body indefinitely, and being passed down to future generations by exposure in the womb and through breast milk.  The research started by investigating fertility, aggression and parenting problems in groups of animals in the Great Lakes area, and has expanded to include other health problems such as cancer and reduced immunity, and also issues previously not thought to be the result of prenatal exposure to certain chemicals including attention defecit disorder, hyperactivity, phobic neurosis, and increasing susceptibility to anxiety and stress amongst other neurological conditions.  The book also offers suggestions for governments, manufacturing companies and individuals to reduce manufacture of, and exposure to these chemicals, and to introduce better testing before new chemicals are introduced into the system.  

It has also given me fresh knowledge regarding animal testing and its benefits.  Before I read this book I was under the assumption that animals and humans would give widely differing results in tests, but I now know that the endocrine system is virtually identical in all vertebrate species.  

As scientists have explored hormone receptors in different animals, they have marvelled at the lack of change over millions of years of evolution.  Whether in a turtle, or mouse, or a human, the endocrine system produces a chemically identical estradiol that binds to an estrogen receptor.  The discovery of similar estrogen receptors in animals as distinct as turtles and humans suggests that the internal communication system based on hormones and receptors is an ancient adaptation that arose early in the evolution of vertebrates – the evolutionary branch of animals with backbones that includes humans.  Scientists believe that turtles have undergone little change since they arose from a reptilian ancestor over 200 million years ago, long before modern mammals appeared on the scene

I’m still not 100% convinced that animal testing is a good thing in all circumstances, but in certain areas such as hormone affecting products, the benefits are impossible to ignore from the information regarding the experiments in the book corroborating the effects of the chemicals studied between animals and humans.

One question the book has raised for me is the fact we don’t really see much publicity regarding a lot of these chemicals.  Could that be because people just don’t want to think about this too deeply as there appears to be no way out of the situation now other than damage limitation?  Or could it be something a little more sinister such as financial reasons from the manufacturers?  

Although most industrial countries imposed restrictions in the 1970’s on the most notorious chemicals in this class, in developing countries, where they are used to control pests that threaten public health and crops, their use is increasing.
In 1991, the United States exported at least 4.1 million pounds of pesticides that had been banned, cancelled, or voluntarily suspended for use in the United States, including 96 tons of DDT [link with DDT info].  These exports included 40 million pounds of compounds known to be endocrine disruptors.

It amazes me that the US can export so much of a chemical that they have banned the use of in their own country almost 20 years previously...  

One point raised in the book describes how the lack of information could be down to the fact that defects aren’t always visible at birth so doctors, parents and the general community often miss the symptoms, or attribute them to something else.  I’m afraid I don’t hold with this so much – if the information is strong enough and available there’s no excuse for us not to be on the lookout.  Next time I visit my doctor I’m going to ask her what her thoughts are on hormonally active synthetic chemicals and their effects, it’ll be interesting to see what she responds with.

The notes I made on evolution in the early hours of 21 Dec:

21 Dec 2008 – approx 5am after a night of insomnia and scribbling lots of disjointed thoughts on all sorts of subjects.
Throughout history everything has evolved – except us it seems (since homo sapien at least) BUT (two thoughts) are we actually evolving and no-one wants to see it?  OR has everything stopped evolving because the planet is relatively stable now?  Ok, global warming etc, but it’s still relatively slow so the evolution would be too small for us to comprehend.  People pooh-pooh claims of human evolution (indigo children etc) but are they too afraid to think it true/real?  (envy again maybe?)  A lot of arguments against current evolution state that we’re not changing physically – but we are – it’s just too slow to be seen easily.  And we’re also at a pretty optimum stage of development – our bodies are well adapted for today’s world, so why shouldn’t evolution continue mentally?  What else do we really NEED physically?  We wear clothes to keep warm, and have houses to live in and protect us, so are probably stifling any changes in that area.  We’ve invented machines to do the things we can’t do – again warding off any changes we might need.  

While typing this up I’ve thought of changes I could add to make this better, but have decided to leave it as I first wrote it.  Bear in mind that this was written off the top of my head in the early hours with no data to back up any thoughts I had, so some of it may be wrong.  It has also occurred to me that the current technology levels may mean we’re actually devolving as we’re adapting to an easier life.  Maybe devolving isn’t the correct word as evolution can work both ways, but it seems to get what I’m trying to say across.

I have other vague unformed ideas on aspects of the book, so I'll probably be posting again and adding those at a later date.

It is those who are perfectly sane who are driven the maddest by an insane world...

There is method behind my madness
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