Just because a product is natural doesn't mean that it is safe or better. Rotenone is a natural pesticide because it is a chemical extracted from roots, seeds and leaves of tropical plants including the Jewel vine, derris, and hoary pea. It is used as an organic pesticide for home-grown fruits and vegetables and for killing unwanted fish in lakes and rivers.

When a pond is overgrown with an undesirable type of fish, rotenone can be added to the pond. It kills all the fish, and then is broken down by bright sunlight in two to six days. Then the pond can be safely restocked with a more desirable type of fish. It is also found in 680 compounds sold to kill insects on foods, prized flowers and infected household pets.

A study to be published in the December 2000 issue of Neuroscience shows that rotenone causes Parkinson's disease in animals. It is the second chemical found to cause Parkinson's disease. In 1983, contaminated heroin also caused symptoms of this disease. Rotenone is a likely suspect because people working in farms are seven times more likely to suffer Parkinson's disease. Rotenone damages the same small part of the brain called the substantia nigra, produces the same cell changes called Lewy bodies, destroys the same chemical called dopamine, and causes the same symptoms of shaking, depressed looking face, hunched over posture and muscle stiffness. Time will tell if this is a major breakthrough.

Nature Neuroscience, December 2000

Checked 8/9/05

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