In addition to analyzing
data from our research trials and developing
new domestic and international research
initiatives, Don reviews dozens of research
studies each week. He'll present the most
interesting of his findings every week on
the web site.
We all know the obvious – that if you eat organic
foods you’ll ingest fewer pesticides than if you
eat conventional foods. Scientists however, are trained
to call into question the obvious if it hasn’t
been shown in research – and some of them are
especially diligent at doing this when it supports a
big money interest, like the agrichemical industry.
Therefore, a recurring point that has come from scientists
is that it has never been shown that children, who are
especially vulnerable to pesticides, who consume conventional
foods have significantly higher levels of pesticides
residues in their bodies than organic food eating children.
Another recurring point is that the levels of these
chemicals normally found in our bodies do not significantly
Well, the evidence is beginning to mount on both of
these points against the use of chemicals, with two
recent studies published in Environmental Health
Perspectives, a peer-reviewed scientific journal
(peer-review is the sine qua non of scientific publishing).
In the first study researchers interviewed parents entering
two Seattle grocery stores, one store specializing in
organic and the other mainstream foods. The researchers
also visited the homes of the participants and had them
keep “food diaries”. The researchers made
sure that pesticide use in the homes was not a factor,
as well as that the genders, ages, social status, and
activities of the two groups were close enough to allow
Urine samples were analyzed for an organophosphate
pesticide residue, dialkylphosphate (DMTP). DMTP was
found in 87% of the children. The conventional kids
averaged 0.34 micromoles and the organic kids 0.04 micromoles
DMTP, a statistically highly significant difference.
The researchers determined that the pesticides oxydemeton-methyl,
azinphosmethyl, phosmet and malathion were the most
likely sources of the DMTP contamination. All of used
on produce such as vegetables and fruits.
Another study, by scientists from Erasmus University,
Rotterdam in The Netherlands, shows that “normal”
levels of industrial and agricultural chemicals at the
prenatal stage in the mothers of children significantly
affect the childrens’ behavior compared with mothers
with low levels of the chemicals.
Girls exposed to higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs) as fetuses were more likely to engage in masculine
play in behavioral studies, while boys exposed to similar
levels of PCBs engaged in more feminine play. Higher
levels of prenatal dioxin were associated with more
feminine play in both boys and girls. Just as significant
is the fact that the mothers of the children with higher
levels of PCBs and dioxins acquired the chemicals via
routine dietary and lifestyle habits – in other
words they were not clustered around chemical plants
or exposed via particular work environments.
Organophosphorus pesticide exposure of urban and suburban
pre-school children with organic and conventional diets.
Environmental Health Perspectives. 2003. C.L.
Curl, et al. [Online 31 October 2002]
Effects of Perinatal Exposure to PCBs and Dioxins on
Play Behavior in Dutch Children at School Age. Environmental
Health Perspectives. Volume 110, Number 10, October
2002 .H.J.I. Vreugdenhil, et al.