Dr. Jessica Shade opens in a new tab is the Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center opens in a new tab, a non-profit research and education organization focused on evidence-based science about the environmental and health benefits of organic food and farming.
Do you think eating organic is better for you? Recent studies are backing up what many thought: organic foods do indeed have a healthier nutritional profile than their conventional counterparts. And they’re also lower in pesticide residues.
This series shares some of the science behind the nutritional benefits of organic foods. Here we cover pesticide residues. Read about organic fruits and vegetables here opens in a new tab and about organic dairy here opens in a new tab.
Did you know?
Conventional crops have four times more pesticide residues than organic crops.
Eating organic foods can decrease your exposure to dietary pesticides.
It’s especially important for pregnant women and children to avoid pesticides in their food.
Organic crops have lower levels of pesticides residues.
On average, conventional crops have four times as many pesticide residues as organic crops opens in a new tab, and several studies show that an organic diet can decrease dietary pesticide exposure opens in a new tab.
There’s been a lot of research on the health risks associated with pesticides opens in a new tab. In adults they’ve been associated with a wide variety of disease risks opens in a new tab, and the President’s cancer panel opens in a new tab suggests avoiding foods produced with pesticides to decrease cancer risks.
It is especially important for pregnant women and children opens in a new tab to avoid pesticides, because they can have disproportionate adverse effects on developing immune systems. A joint report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine suggests that environmental chemicals such as pesticides are a risk to pregnancy opens in a new tab. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development also published a paper showing that pesticide exposure can harm reproductive health opens in a new tab.
Multiple pesticide exposure may increase risks.
Many pesticides are used in combination with others and researchers are beginning to look at this because preliminary research is finding that pesticides can have synergistic negative effects on health opens in a new tab, where being exposed to multiple pesticides is more harmful than the effects of each individual pesticide on its own. For example, one recent study opens in a new tab found that exposure to a cocktail of five pesticides led to increased effects.
The portion of a pesticide formulation that causes the desired killing, repelling, or controlling is known as the active ingredient. The other components are known as inert ingredients and may range from 0% to 99.99% of the total ingredients of the mixture. Their purpose can be to aid in sticking, spreading, transporting, stability or dilution. A recent study out of France opens in a new tab found that inert ingredients could increase toxicity by up to a thousand times higher than active ingredients alone.
So, now you know: eating organic foods can reduce your exposure to pesticide residues.
Are you concerned about pesticide residue on your food? What else makes organic important to you?
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