THE PESTICIDE CONTROVERSY
What Is the Pesticide Controversy?
Margot Woelk was ninety-five years old before she revealed
her role in Nazi Germany as Hitler's food taster. Fearful the
British would poison him, Hitler made sure to eat food only
after it was eaten by Margot and fourteen other girls serving
as his official tasters. Hitler may have been evil but he was
not stupid. He knew that poisons affect people differently,
and knew that any food that harmed one girl might harm him
(then pity what would happen to the cook!).
Every year we spray something akin to poison on our
food, and use something akin to Hitler's system of making
sure we are not harmed. The motives are polar opposites—
Hitler cared only for the preservation of his person, while
we seek the safety of all humans. Whether they are syn-
thetic pesticides or “natural” pesticides used in organic food,
they are applied with the intention of killing three types of
pests: insects, weeds, and pathogens (e.g., fungi and viruses).
At some level they could poison us also. Many contain car-
cinogens, cause neurological disorders, and the like. Yet our
food seems safe to most people, and since 1992 cancer inci-
dence rates have fallen or remained the same, cancer death
rates have fallen, and life expectancy in the United States has
been steadily increasing.