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Allison Walter

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What is more important: Our drugs or our ecosystems?

Originally created to support human health and treat illnesses, pharmaceuticals are being scrutinized as a new class of water pollutants with potentially devastating effects on our ecosystems. Drugs including antibiotics, anti-depressants, birth control pills, and painkillers have been detected in our water sources. The remains of these drugs enter water systems through industrial waste, medical facilities, household toilets, and other methods of disposal. They then pass through sewage treatment facilities and into groundwater, irrigation systems, and waterways from lakes to oceans.

Numerous studies suggest that pharmaceutical wastes pose a significant environmental threat. For example, commonly used anti-depressants and birth control pills are being blamed for reducing fish sperm levels in lakes. Many aquatic and terrestrial organisms rely on fish for their own food and survival; therefore these drugs can be detrimental to biological diversity. Scientists are concerned that traces of pharmaceuticals in our water sources can be linked to abnormalities ranging from frog mutations, inter-sex fish, to an increase in cancer and behavior changes in aquatic organisms.

With the rise of global drug consumption, how much responsibility do the pharmaceutical companies have to protect the environment? How much responsibility do we have as individuals to stop taking these drugs if they cause harmful effects on the environment? Do the benefits we gain from drugs outweigh the long-term and irreversible impact they may have on our ecosystems?

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  • May 7 2012: Part 2 of 2
    For example, if the people working in the pharmaceutical companies operated from attitudes of care and concern for all of humanity and our world, rather than from selfish monetary profit motives that exploit others and our environment, the global impact of the products they make would have been considered and implemented in sustainable ways, from cradle to cradle (C2C).

    As consumers of these products, we would be educated to know what to do with them. Not only how to take them as necessary for health reasons, but also how to recycle the packaging, what to do with expired products, and so on, C2C.

    What humanity really needs now is not more bandaid discussions on symptoms that have arisen, but rather, we all need to come together around the round table of our world, like members of one united, global human family, and make new environments, communities, and business processes that operate from the best benefical good of every single person on this planet, none excluded.

    Implementing educational environments in every aspect of society and media that supports these attitudes of compassion, care, and altruism, is key to us all uniting to come back into balance with nature's laws of harmony on all levels. These are certainly exciting times, as humanity is shifting to a new evolutionary level!

    Part 2 of 2
    • E Pines

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      May 7 2012: I think that Caitlin Luview is making a critically important obervation here, and indeed the focus of the question should shift. I have family and friends with such problems as bipolar and diabetes. To just "drop pharmaceuticals" representst to them a sentence from life time lock up to death.

      However, a caring world would not only have made safe decomposition and processing an equal priority without outfox-the-fox enough government scrutiny, but would concern itself with environmental impacts that might have played a role beyond natural genetics in the development of such mental and phyical diseases.

      The key is mutual care, responsibility, and guarantee. If we inculcate that through education and social pressure, the rest would likely follow.

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