Tests Reveal Benefits of Eating Organic

Surprising Pesticide Levels From Eating Conventional Foods

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 2, 2023

Is eating organic worth it? A study in the journal Environmental Research says yes. The research, conducted on four families across the United States, offers a snapshot of how pesticides in our food accumulate in our bodies.

Video: Organic for All  (from Friends of the Earth Action)

The Test: Conventional vs. Organic Diet

Over a 12-day period, researchers from Friends of the Earth, in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley, tested the urine of four different American families. For the first six days of the study, the families ate their typical conventional non-organic foods. During the next six days, the families ate a similar diet of all-organic food.

After the first six days on the conventional diet, daily urine tests revealed that all of the families had detectable levels of agricultural pesticides in their bodies. These toxins included organophosphates, neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, and 2,4-D herbicide—insecticides and weed killers used on a wide range of food crops.

For the next six days, the families ate a completely organic diet. At the end of the week of all-organic eating, the pesticide levels in the test families’ urine samples decreased by an average 60.5 percent. The results surprised the researchers and delighted the families.

Here are the specific results:

Organophosphates: Test Levels

A plane sprays pesticides on crops. Tests Reveal Benefits of Eating Organic Food.Organophosphates are insecticides commonly used on berries, tree fruits and vegetables. Two organophosphates found in food, malathion and chlorpyrifos, are nerve toxins. Both are considered serious risk factors in cancer, kidney failure, lung damage, and abnormal brain development.

> After six days of organic eating, urine tests showed a 95% drop in the level of malathion in the body, and a 60% drop in chlorpyrifos.

Neonicotinoids: Test Levels

Neonicotinoids, or neonics as they are sometimes known, are the most widely used insecticides in the world. As of 2013, approximately 95% of corn, canola, sorghum and sugar beets, and one-half of all soybeans in the U.S. were treated with neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are widely used on conventional fruits and vegetables, including apples, cherries, peaches, berries, oranges, leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, cereal grains, rice, nuts and wine grapes. Europe recently banned neonicotinoids as a cause for the massive die-off of bees and other pollinators.

During the first half of the study, researchers found clothianidin, a neonicotinoid, in the urine of the test families as they ate conventional foods. This chemical has been associated with several central nervous system disorders including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It may increase gene expression linked to breast cancer in women.

> After six days of eating all-organic foods, the levels of the widely used pesticide clothianidin fell by 83% in the test families.

Pyrethroids: Test Levels

Fruits and vegetables in a supermarket. Tests Reveal Benefits of Eating Organic Foods.Pyrethroids are insecticides used on a wide range of crops throughout the U.S. and Canada. In recent years, pyrethroids are being used as a substitute for organophosphates. In Quebec, for example, scientists report that pyrethroids are applied to such vegetables and fruits as sweet corn, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions, cabbage, apples, strawberries and other berries.

These pesticide compounds are highly toxic to beneficial insects and fish. There is some evidence that they are associated with neurological changes resembling Attention-Deficit Disorder in humans.

> After six days of eating organic foods, pyrethroid levels dropped 50% in the test families’ urine.

2,4-D Herbicide: Test Levels

2,4-D is an herbicide formulated to kill broadleaf weeds. It is widely used in agriculture on corn, soybean, sugarcane and wheat crops. 2,4-D is one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, the infamous pesticide used to defoliate the jungles during the Vietnam War. It is widely considered to be a possible cancer-causing compound.

> After six days on an all-organic diet, 2,4-D levels in the urine of the test families fell by 37%.

In as little as one week, eating organic foods quickly and dramatically reduced exposure to pesticides.

Eating Organic to Reduce your Pesticide Load

Overall, the study showed that in as little as one week, eating organic foods quickly and dramatically reduced exposure to pesticides. The results imply that most of the people in North America, eating a conventional diet, are continuously exposed to a low level of toxic pesticide through their food. A rising volume of scientific research suggests that chronic low-level pesticide contamination is a factor in many human diseases.

The solution is clear. Eat organic foods, and you not only protect your families’ health, you also help protect the environment, farm workers, and pollinators which are so vital to our food production.

Vegetables on display in a supermarket. Tests Reveal Benefits of Eating Organic Foods.

More articles:

A Low-Cost Way to Detect Pesticides in the Food We EatPesticide Free? A Low-Cost Way to Detect Pesticides in the Food We Eat

A beekeeper inspects a beehive - Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Honey - A Worldwide SurveyNeonicotinoid Pesticides in Honey: A Worldwide Survey

Organic is Better for You!Is Organic Food Better for You?

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