As Dr. Joseph Pizzorno (co-founder of Bastyr University) and other prominent physicians point to the unintentional damage wrought by agricultural and industrial toxins, the assumption that all chemical combinations are good for us, or can be managed by our detox systems is being revealed as false. Yet the mainstream media lags behind in telling the true story.

For example, in a press teleconference I attended, three researchers revealed the current (and highly disturbing findings) on chemical toxins as contributors to rising cancer rates in young children. All of the scientific researchers spoke about the need to regulate the 80,000 toxic chemicals that have never been studied or regulated since they were “grandfathered” into common use in 1975. After the scientists spoke, “Wendy,” a young mother recounted how her daughter died of cancer before the age of four. This caring mother was traumatized by this tragedy, as most people would be.

I felt sad and puzzled observing the blind spot this true story evoked in media folks. The truth of this story was unacceptable to their predefined “rules” about how to convey this information. Several major media reporters at the conference set about translating for their readers this worrisome information and its call to action. A reporter for a major and well-regarded online health media website heard the tragic story of Wendy’s young daughter’s death from brain cancer, and asked, “Of course we don’t want to scare our readers, so what can we tell them they can do about this?”

Throughout the teleconference, the scientists’ message was that toxic exposures are so unregulated and pervasive, that there are few ways for individuals to avoid health-harming exposure to them. Such exposure is particularly dangerous to fetuses, infants, babies, and young children, who are still growing, and laying down their health template for life. Research shows that children today are born far more toxic than their parents were at birth.

That’s why the press conference takeaway was that what we need to quote-unquote do is take action en groupe for improved accountability and regulation by supporting passage of a bill that would require safety studies of (and standards for) suspect chemicals.

But that wasn’t what the reporter wanted to hear. She wanted simple and easy personal health advice. The health site reporter’s naïve question perfectly displayed the pervasive and tacit editorial dictate of the day: It’s not a reporter’s job to reveal a truth, but to hide it, or schmear it with uplifting spin to make a devastating reality, palatable. Thus the media routinely filters out what we need to know to promote health.

Not ten minutes prior, Wendy, the young mother whose child had died, had shared with us the many unanswered questions that have dogged her since the day her daughter was diagnosed and up until the present. Her ruminations revealed that unless people have the power to influence change on the far-range societal level, the message of personal responsibility has an unintended and ugly flip side. This mother’s questions all focused on what she might have done to protect her toddler from terminal illness. Questions like:

“Was it the kiddy bubble bath and shampoo (which she later learned contained toxic chemicals)?”
“Was it the flame retardant on the kiddy blanket, mattress, and pj’s?”
“Was it the pesticide in the strawberry jam? The pollution from a nearby highway? Pesticides in the water from nearby farms. .?”

Whether it’s a family or a person who is overtaken y devastating illness, it’s quite common to wish to turn back the clock and seek the moment of choice, or to ferret out the cause. This is an all too human attempt to endow a tragic circumstance with a modicum of meaning, or to restore a sense of logic or control to the apparent chaos of tragedy. Telling people that they choose health through their actions can be a freedom if they truly have options. But if a harmful health exposure occurs without one’s consent, that supposed freedom becomes a misplaced burden, a source of guilt and regret.

But so intent was this reporter at following the standard issue editorial dictate that she supply something we can do, she never noticed that her question transferred the responsibility for the child’s death on to the grieving parent, rather than the society that fails to regulate these toxins.

So in following a media that robotically offers quick fixes to draw readership, people have to consider: Is it scarier to read about the health dangers from toxic risks like the ones that took the life of Wendy’s daughter and take action? Or is it scarier not to read about them, while tacitly allowing them to persist and harm other children’s health? To interrupt the trajectories driving our young ones towards health tipping points, it’s helpful for each one of us to become more conscious about what the media marketplace is selling us.