New Study Links Eating Organic to Lowered Pesticide Levels in Children's Bodies

Group Asks USDA to Officially Recognize Organic's Safety Benefit

The entire study is at

For Immediate Release

By Environmental Working Group

November 22, 2002 Contact: Jon Corsiglia 202-939-9142

WASHINGTON Just days after USDA launched its national organic certification program, a scientific study finds that children who eat organic foods have lower levels of one class of agricultural pesticides (organophosphorus pesticides) in their bodies. University of Washington researchers conducted the study, which tested 18 children fed primarily organic diets and 21 children who eat mostly conventional diets.

The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, concludes that parents could greatly reduce their children's exposure to pesticides by taking the simple step of buying organic foods. Environmental Working Group's (EWG) research supports this latest study's findings with its recently updated website database FoodNews (found at The database includes the latest government testing data 150,000 samples from USDA on pesticide residues found on produce.

This is the first interactive tool that allows consumers to select specific produce, or fill up a virtual shopping cart, to see how many pesticides are found on those items. FoodNews then compares these items with their organic counterparts. EWG calls on U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to formally recognize the safety advantage of reduced pesticide exposure offered by organic food. "USDA has always insisted that organic is no safer, but it is safer with respect to pesticide exposure, as this study shows for the same kind of bug killers that EPA has prioritized for regulatory action," said EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles.

As USDA's website asserts (at "USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Organic food differs from conventionally produced food in the way it is grown, handled, and processed." Since Congress unanimously amended the nation's pesticide law in 1996, the EPA has been removing dangerous pesticides from the food supply specifically because they present unacceptable risks to children. "In the past five years, the EPA has removed several dangerous pesticides from conventional food that organic food never had.

Yet, even as EPA slowly bans pesticides that fail federal safety standards for children, industry lobbyists and their allies at USDA continue to claim that all pesticides in food are completely safe and that food without chemical pesticides is no safer," said EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles. "How does that square?" -----------------

About the study The idea for the University of Washington study came from some unusual findings in an earlier study. The same team tested the levels of Organophosphorus (OP) pesticide metabolites among a group of children who had not been screened for organic and conventional diets. Researchers found one child whose levels were zero in the initial study and then learned that this child was being fed an organic diet. For this study, the team analyzed 24 hour urine samples from 18 children eating organic fruits, vegetables and juices and 21 children eating conventional, based on food diaries kept by parents for three days before collecting the sample. OP pesticides are developmental neurotoxins and are the top class of pesticides targeted by EPA for regulatory action because of their threat to children's health. The study finds that children eating conventional diets have concentrations of the pesticide metabolite six to nine times higher than children who eat organic.


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