Organic Redux: Don't ignore the benefits to our food system & kids

Just days after the industrial agriculture-backed Alliance for Food and Farming launched a new effort to challenge organic farming, an article was posted on Slate yesterday underscoring many of the same points and challenging the benefits of organic food and farming, as well as the harms of pesticides to children.

Emily Marquez, PhD, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network released the following statement in response:

“This article  raises questions about organic versus conventional foods, and the threat of pesticide-related health harms — and we’ve debunked many of these myths before. This new piece misses the mark in three key ways:

1. The weight of scientific evidence shows that some pesticides, even in small amounts, have adverse impacts on children’s health and intelligence. The American Academy of Pediatrics has made it clear that we should reduce children’s exposure to pesticides in order to protect their development. In addition, the current process of evaluating risk fails to consider the impact of the combination of chemicals that children are exposed to, some of which may act synergistically.

2. The regulatory system is broken and even laws that are meant to protect kids aren’t being adequately implemented. Recognizing that children are more vulnerable to pesticides, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996 to ensure greater protections. Yet the law has never been fully implemented. As a result, EPA’s acceptable levels routinely fail to adequately protect against negative impacts on children’s neurological development from low-level exposures to pesticides, such as chlorpyrifos.

3. Organic production has far-reaching benefits to our health and the environment. Organic farming is a process used to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. Fundamental to organic farming is protection of soil and water resources, which results in crops with greater resistance to pests and disease and systems more resilient to the vagaries of climate and weather, such as drought and periodic flooding.

With that in mind, we should remember that there is much we still don’t know about pesticide exposures via residues on food and the risk they pose to children. But from what we do know, there is ample evidence for caution. The fruits and vegetables available to kids should provide nutrition for growing bodies without exposing them to health harms that can last a lifetime. It’s time to invest in food systems that pay many dividends to our health and that of our communities.”

 

Contact: Paul Towers, 916-216-1082, ptowers@panna.org