Concerned about Pesticides?

This week I was at City Market thoroughly enjoying a delicious deli sandwich that I had saved $1 on (thanks to Campus Special coupon book) when I saw a mother and her baby enter the cafe. Before they sat down at the table across from me, the mother turned to the wall behind her where framed pictures of different farms, workers, volunteers, fruits and vegetables hung nicely in black frames. I quickly noticed that the mom was in one of the photos, and she wanted to show her baby!

20120318-223132.jpgAfter pointing herself out to the baby, she sat down and started to breast feed. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was a pretty cool chain of events: the mom worked on a farm, helped produce food that she likely consumed, and now here’s this baby being nourished by the same body that consumed the food in the picture. This got me thinking about just how sensitive the bodies of these tiny creatures must be to different foods and substances on their food.

Earlier in the week, I read an article for class on pesticide toxicity. The article mentioned Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, a report issued by the National Academy of Sciences in 1993 documenting that  “infants and children differ both qualitatively and quantitatively from adults in their exposure to pesticide residues in foods” and that some children exceeded safe levels of pesticides in their diets.

The NAS report led rise to the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 which requires the EPA to set health-based standards for pesticides in foods, while requiring additional protection for children, infants and other vulnerable people.  In spite of this legislation however, researchers from Emory University in Atlanta reported that young children continue to be exposed to pesticides primarily through their diets. Furthermore, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)  points out three epidemiological studies published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2011 that show a clear link between a mother’s exposure to pesticides (specifically, organophosphates) during pregnancy and deficits to children’s learning and memory that persist through the ages of 6 to 9.

Meanwhile, agribusiness and pesticide companies are working to weaken protections in the Food Quality Protection Act, and in some cases have already succeeded. Furthermore, industry refuses to conduct developmental neurotoxicity studies, claiming it’s too expensive and difficult, yet they deny any study linking pesticide residue from diet and to human health risks. Really?

So, why should you be concerned about pesticides? For starters, U.S. and international governmental agencies, in addition to a host of researchers and doctors worldwide, acknowledge that pesticides are linked to several health problems including:

  • brain and nervous system toxicity
  • cancer
  • hormone disruption
  • skin, eye and lung irritation

Therefore, why take the risk if you don’t have to? Take steps to protect yourself and loved ones by using tools such as EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to determine which produce is most important to  buy organic.

FN 2/13

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One Comment on “Concerned about Pesticides?”

  1. nicole lackey
    April 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    This topic is so important. It seems like there is only minimal awareness on the part of most consumers about the harmfullness of pesticides. This info needs to be publicicized in a big way. Is there a way to use the business and mass marketing own tools to get the word out? I hope it becomes common knowledge soon to force changes that need to happen.

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