Pesticide Poisoning and the Global Epidemic of Parkinsonism

Poisoned Land: The Rural Rise of Parkinsonism

DW (2021)

Film Review

In the age of Covid, it so happens that the pandemic of Parkinson’s Disease is genuine. The global incidence of Parkinsonism, a severely disabling neurological disorder (involving tremors, difficulty moving, walking and swallowing, pain, incontinence, dementia and depression) is soaring.

As elsewhere California’s Central Valley, which grows 25% of America’s vegetables are grown, is experience multiple clusters of the disease. Owing to a 1970s California law, all farmers in the state must report all pesticide. At present, this register reveals a 75% increase of Parkinsonism in residents living adjacent to fields using toxic pesticides.

Scientists are investigating two dozen pesticides for a possible causative role in Parkinson’s disease. The herbicide Paraquat and the fungicide Mangozeb have both been banned in the EU.

German farmers interviewed in the film continue to use pesticides despite being aware of the risk. They say they can’t afford not to use them unless the German government bans cheap imports from other countries that also use pesticides.

In France, Parkinsonism has been listed as an occupational disease (owing to its link to pesticide use) since 2012. French vineyards spray their grapes with pesticides 30-40 times a year, and French wine has been found to contain between nine and sixteen different pesticide residues.

Other studies have found pesticides in milk and air studies of big cities and pristine old growth forests.

I had problems with the sound quality of the YouTube video. The film can also be seen at https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/poisoned-land-rural-rise-parkinsons/

Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Directed by Jon Osaki (2018)

Film Review

This documentary traces the US government internment of 120,000 West Coast Japanese-American citizens during World War II.

The film begins by describing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act banning Chinese immigrants, which led West Coast farmers to turn to Japanese immigrants as their primary source of cheap labor. Many Japanese would save enough money to purchase their own land in California’s Central Valley, regarded as worthless desert by Caucasian farmers because it was hard to irrigate.

Concerned about a potential Central Valley takeover by Japanese farmers, in 1924 their Caucasian neighbors successfully lobbied Congress to ban all Asian immigration.

Anti-Japanese feeling intensified following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, aggravated by the mainstream media dissemination of rumors about Japanese saboteurs collaborating via shortwave  with Japanese bombers and submarines off the coast of California.

Despite a two-year investigation by the Office of Naval Intelligence that failed to identify a single case of Japanese sabotage, the War Department heavily lobbied Roosevelt to intern Japanese American citizens as a “genetic” enemy of the US. California Attorney General (later Supreme Court Chief Justice) Earl Warren also made it a major issue in his 1942 campaign for governor.

Despite strong opposition from the Justice Department, the War Department prevailed and in February 1942 Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. The latter ordered all Japanese Americans living in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona to be stripped of their lands and imprisoned in internment camps. Congress subsequently validated the Executive Order with Public Law 503.

Three Japanese-Americans challenged the public law in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, SCOTUS upheld their internment. The decision would be overturned in 1983, based on documents in the US Archives revealing the US government had altered, suppressed, and destroyed evidence in laying out the case before the Court.

Japanese Americans would remain in internment camps until March 1946.

The film can be viewed free until June 1st, either at New Day Films or via Kanopy (by anyone with a public library card). Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine.