By Jim Hightower on January 09, 2014

Have you had your daily minimum requirement of triclosan today? How about your dosage of triclocarban?

Chances are you have, but don't know it. These two are antimicrobial chemicals, which might sound like a good thing, except that they disrupt the human body's normal regulatory processes. Animal studies show, for example, that these triclos can be linked to the scrambling of hormones in children, disruption of puberty and of the reproductive system, decreases in thyroid hormone levels that affect brain development, and other serious health problems.

Yet, corporations have slipped them into all sorts of consumer products, pushing them with a blitz of advertising that claim the antibacterial ingredients prevent the spread of infections. The two chemicals were originally meant for use by surgeons to cleanse their hands before operations, but that tiny application has now proliferated like a plague, constantly exposing practically everyone to small amounts here, there, and everywhere, adding up to dangerous mega-doses.

Triclosan and triclocarban were first mixed into soaps, but then -- BOOM! -- brand-name corporations went wild, putting these hormone disrupters into about 2,000 products, including toothpaste, mouthwashes, fabrics, and (most astonishingly) even into baby pacifiers! Today, use of the chemicals is so prevalent that they can be found in the urine of three-fourths of Americans. They also accumulate in groundwater and soil, so they saturate our environment and eventually ourselves -- one study found them in the breast milk of 97 percent of women tested.

For decades, corporate lobbying and regulatory meekness let this chemical menace spread. But now the Food & Drug Administration is finally questioning the continued use of the two triclos. For more information and action, go to the Natural Resources Defense Council: www.nrdc.org.

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Photo: "Washing hands with soap and water," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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