Pesticide residues.
Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 9:54PM
Gary Leavitt

Those who buy organic produce in order to avoid pesticide residues are almost always justified in paying extra. However, Organic produce is not always perfect in this respect. It has long been known that Organic produce sometimes has pesticide residues. These can come from a variety of sources: Drift from a nearby conventional farm, contaminated soil or water, unauthorized use of pesticides by the organic farmer, or contamination after harvest. Nevertheless, pesticide residues are almost always much lower in organic fruits and vegetables than in conventional fruits and vegetables.

The USDA Pesticide Data Program, in operation since 1991, has shown that ". . . conventional fruits are 3.6 times more likely to contain residues than organic fruit samples, and conventional vegetables are 6.8 times more likely to have one or more detectable residue". The Pesticide Data Program tests about 600 samples each of 12 different fresh or processed foods per year. "It is now clear that purchasing organic food is a reliable way to markedly reduce exposure to pesticides . . . Many consumers are now looking for practical ways to reduce personal risk . . . Consuming organic food is clearly one way to do just that." ~ Charles M. Benbrook, 2003.

Although the USDA has often claimed that organic food is no safer than any other food, results like the pesticide residue tests done by California Department of Pesticide Regulation, challenge that claim, as do studies that have investigated effects of pesticide residues on children. Research conducted in Mexico by a French team showed that children who were frequently exposed to pesticides suffered from a variety of deficiencies not normally present in unexposed children. A recent University of Washington study showed much higher levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of a child fed conventional food than of a child on an organic diet.

While samples positive for pesticide residues were found in organic foods, the percentage of positive samples was much lower for Organic than for conventional foods.

Article originally appeared on Growing for the future! (
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