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
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 comparison.
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
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
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