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Organics lower kids pesticide buildup (full text of article)

  • Subject: [cg] Organics lower kids pesticide buildup (full text of article)
  • From: "Patrick Marcus" pjmarcus@mind.net
  • Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 09:53:18 -0700
  • Thread-index: AcW5TM5cylU63T8gTH+v81WFm9JsQw==

I apologize to those of you that could not access the article because
of the LA Times logon procedure.  Here is the full text of the
Regards, P. Marcus
By Marla Cone
Los Angeles Times
Switching to organic foods provides children "dramatic and immediate"
protection from widely used pesticides that are applied on a variety
of crops, according to a new study by a team of federally funded
Concentrations of two organophosphate pesticides -- malathion and
chlorpyrifos -- declined substantially in the bodies of
elementary-school age children during a five-day period when organic
foods were substituted for conventional foods.
The two chemicals are the most commonly used insecticides in U.S.
The health effects of exposure to minute amounts of pesticides found
in food are largely unknown, especially for children. Some research,
however, suggests the residue may harm the developing nervous system.
For 15 days, a team of environmental health scientists from the
University of Washington, Emory University and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) tested the urine of 23 elementary-school
age children in the Seattle area.
During the first three days and last seven days, the children ate
normal foods. But during the middle five days, organic items were
substituted for most of their diet, including fruits, vegetables,
juices and wheat- and corn-based processed items such as cereal and
Average levels of both pesticides in the children "decreased to the
non-detect levels immediately after the introduction of organic diets
and remained non-detectable until the conventional diets were
reintroduced," the researchers reported Thursday in the online version
of the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
When they ate organic foods, the children on average had zero
malathion detected in their urine. But when the children returned to
eating conventional foods, one child had as much as 263 parts per
billion (ppb) and the average increased to 1.6 ppb.
For chlorpyrifos, the children had less than 1 ppb when they ate
organic foods, but the average increased fivefold as soon as they
returned to their previous diet.
The findings suggest that children are exposed to organophosphate
chemicals mainly through food, not through spraying in homes or other
sources. In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned
most residential uses of chlorpyrifos but has left most agricultural
uses unrestricted.
Three other organophosphate pesticides that are not widely used on
farms and are more highly restricted by the EPA were undetectable in
most of the children, according to the study directed by Emory
University's Dr. Chensheng Lu. "In conclusion," the researchers wrote,
"we were able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic
and immediate protective effect against exposure to organophosphorus
pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production."
Margaret Reeves, a staff scientist at the Pesticide Action Network
North America in San Francisco, said the findings are "not surprising
because we know that food is an important source of [organophosphate]
exposure. Also, we know that these pesticides don't last very long ...
in the body, and you can have a relatively quick response" to a diet
Pesticide manufacturers say that while low levels of residue are
detectable on many products, there is no evidence children are harmed.
They say pesticides, which are the most highly tested and regulated
chemicals in the United States, are vital to providing an affordable
and plentiful world food supply.
But Reeves said the children's study "is a pretty strong argument that
[organic food] is a good way to go, if you have access to it and can
afford it."
Organic foods can be expensive and sometimes difficult to find. But
parents can minimize children's exposure if they substitute organic
products for those that contain the most residue. Experts advise
parents to wash produce and peel skins if they buy conventional foods
but for foods that cannot be peeled, such as grapes and strawberries,
organic may be a wise choice.
In the late 1990s, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed that
nearly three-quarters of foods sampled from conventionally grown crops
contained pesticide residue, while 23 percent of organic products did.
The Consumers Union reported in 2000 that peaches, apples, pears,
grapes, green beans, spinach, winter squash, strawberries and
cantaloupe had the highest pesticide residues. Those with few residues
included bananas, broccoli, canned peaches and grape juice.

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