Ever since the beginning, men have taken the lead position in most positions of guidance. In some countries even today, girls receive very little education, are never elected to a position of power, are not allowed to drive a car, or even vote. The very first female mayor elected in the province of Quebec was Elsie Gibbons, Mayor of Portage du Fort. The first in Ottawa was a woman raised in Renfrew, Charlotte Whitton. Men were always higher paid than women. Most heads of corporations were men. The first woman president of a Quebec agricultural organization was Jeannie Neveau, who was elected president of the Quebec Farmers Association only a few decades ago.
When I was a teenager, a few years ago, Pregnant Mares’ Urine (PMU) was collected by several horse farmers in our county and sold to companies that refined it and sold the refined product to be used as a base for makeup products including lipstick. Once the women found out where this “base” came from, pressure was put on the makeup manufacturers to replace it with another product.
As time passed, the chemical called PFAS was developed. Since the 50s, it has been used in cleaning products, everything water resistant from rain coats to non-running mascara, nail polish, and dental floss, and non-stick cookware.
It has been recently discovered that PFAS does not break down for a very long time and maybe never. As this PFAS passes through the system, it eventually goes out with the wastewater and becomes concentrated in de-watered sludge that is often spread on farmland. It has even been spread on “organic farms” because it is supposed to be an organic fertilizer. Some farmlands in areas where PFAS levels have been found to be elevated have been taken out of all production indefinitely because anything grown on that land is contaminated and unfit for consumption. Some lakes and steams have been declared contaminated and no fish from those areas can be consumed. PFAS has even been found in some lipstick (watch who you kiss, boys). Two large chemical companies have been noted to produce the majority of PFAS. They supply it to many various manufacturers who use it to make various products from lipstick that goes on smooth and does not run, to water repellant fabric. Until now, very little testing has been conducted on anything from drinking water to sludge that is spread on fields.
Yes, testing can be done and the technology is here now. Consumers must demand it. The companies that produce and use PFAS are making profits and have lobbying skills. Buyers (many of them women) of products that contain PFAS must demand to be informed which products contain how much PFAS. It is measured in PPB (parts per billion) and very small amounts can affect you and your family’s health.
Some of the most used weed killers in the world have been criticized increasingly as being a cause of some cancers. Crops commonly sprayed with those chemicals include corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, rice, cotton, wheat, and a few others that I just don’t remember now. Women may remember that most feminine hygiene products are made from this cotton. A strike of farmers in India lasted for three years because the use of some of these chemicals led to farmers being hooked on using expensive sprays, seeds and other practices, which led to an increase in farm bankruptcies, and farm suicides. The Indian government finally gave in to farmers’ demands and didn’t allow further expansion of sales of the herbicide. Over the past few years some manufacturers of those herbicides have lost court decisions and been forced to pay out billions of dollars in damages to plaintives. Many of those court decisions receive very little press. Sometimes, I wonder, “who is friends with whom?”
This is where the women come in. Most of our teachers are women. Most of our librarians are women. Most of the shopping of both groceries and consumer goods is done by women. Remember women, it’s the future of your kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. that you are looking out for.
Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.
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