Organic diets significantly reduce pesticide exposure in humans

Diet is a primary source of pesticide exposure. 2016 data from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program show that approximately 47% of domestic food and 49% of imported foods sampled had detectable pesticide residues.
A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research (Item 1) investigated the impact of an organic diet intervention on levels of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides or their metabolites in urine collected from adults and children from four racially and geographically diverse families in the United States before and after an organic diet intervention. Pesticide levels were tested in their urine for six days on a conventional diet, and then six days on an all-organic diet.
The study found that eating a 100% organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduced the families’ exposure to four classes of pesticides by an average of 60% over the six days (Item 2). There were significant reductions in urinary levels of thirteen pesticide metabolites and parent compounds representing organophosphate, neonicotinoid, and pyrethroid insecticides and the herbicide 2,4-D following the introduction of an organic diet.
Organophosphates dropped the most, with a 70% overall reduction. Chlorpyrifos—which has been linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities, and reduced IQ in children—dropped 61%, and malathion, a probable human carcinogen, dropped 95%. 2,4-D, a popular herbicide, dropped by 37%. 2,4-D is linked to wide-ranging health impacts from endocrine disruption to liver damage to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Pyrethroid levels dropped overall by about 50% and one neonicotinoid detected dropped by 84%.
Prior studies have similarly found that switching to organic food quickly and substantially reduced pesticide exposures. Additional research is needed to evaluate dietary exposure to neonicotinoids, which are now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world and among the most commonly reported pesticide residues in infant and toddler foods.

  • Third World Network