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Protecting Children’s Health: American Academy of Pediatrics Misses the Big Picture in Their Flawed 'Organics' Analysis

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Safeguard Organic Standards page.

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has weighed in on organic foods for children.  Its news release was widely covered in the national media.

While the AAP should be commended for acknowledging the potentially harmful effects of pesticide residues on conventional foods, their report-and associated press coverage-is seriously flawed in its basic approach to agrochemical contamination in our food supply and the associated threat to public health.

Even though the AAP acknowledges that many pesticides are neurotoxins, that studies have linked exposure to pesticides to neurological harm in children, and that a recent peer-reviewed study correlated higher pesticide residue levels in children with higher rates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the AAP is cautious about reaching a conclusion regarding the harmful effects of pesticides.

Why such a reckless approach?  AAP explains, "No studies to date have experimentally examined the causal relationship between exposure to pesticides directly from conventionally grown foods and adverse neurodevelopmental health outcomes."

With this statement, the AAP suggests that it considers existing knowledge about toxic pesticides to be inadequate and incomplete for the purposes of recommending organic foods for children, which have been shown in peer-reviewed published studies to radically reduce children's pesticide exposure.

The pediatric group suggests, as agrochemical manufacturers have for decades, that the question of whether pesticides harm children will remain unanswered until results from experiments provide definite proof of harm.  With this expectation, the AAP joins the agribusiness and pesticide lobbyists in setting an impossible standard.  Let's step back for a minute and imagine what such an experimental study would look like.

Children in such experiments would need to be assigned to two different groups: 'Group Conventional' which would receive only conventional foods with the documented pesticide residues, and 'Group Organic,' on a 100% organic diet.  But exposure to pesticides starts before birth, so to control for this confounding factor, the experiment would have to begin with the mothers while pregnant-also grouped in 'Group Conventional' and 'Group Organic.'


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