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Children's Drawings Reveal Significance of Chemical Exposure

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Dr. Elizabeth Guillette from the University of Florida has studied the influence of agrichemicals on the development of the Yaqui Indians children in Mexico. She identified within the Yaqui tribe one group which had accepted the introduction of chemical agriculture and has resided in a valley where it is practiced extensively. Another Yaqui group moved up into the surrounding hills to practice traditional lifestyles, avoiding chemical agriculture. Everything was the same between these villages - genes, diet, lifestyle, climate etc. She used anthropological and pediatric assessments of the children to assess the impact of pesticide residue on their health.


Guillette's studies identified that the valley children who were exposed to pesticide residues in their diet, homes and environment lagged in every measurement of development including coordination, learning and memory. Among the skills tested was the childrens ability to draw a person. Many of the valley children could not draw the basic elements of a human even at 4 and 5 years old, putting them into a group of people believed to have little or no potential to develop appreciable social skills. The above illustrations by 53 - 55 month old ( 4-year-old) children shows typical examples of the drastic developmental difference associated with valley (chemically exposed) and hill people who were largely unexposed to chemical agriculture.

Yaqui tribesmen that avoided agrichemicals were found to have pre-school children with superior coordination, learning and memory than valley tribesmen who associated with agriculture chemical production areas.

Guillette et. al. 1998. An anthropological approach to the evaluation of preschool children exposed to pesticides in Mexico. Environ. Health Perspectives 106(6):

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