The Negative Effects of Pesticides on Children

Because their body mass is so much lower than adults', toxicity testing fails to adequately take into account the negative effects of pesticides on children.


| November 2014



Wheat ears

The agricultural chemicals carried on food represent a more significant level of toxicity to children, who have lower body mass than adults and whose growing tissues are at greater risk of sustaining damage from pesticide exposure.


Photo by Fotolia/felinda

The conventional agriculture industry claims that the pesticides, herbicides and insecticides it uses are safe when used as directed, but peer-reviewed evidence suggests otherwise. André Leu investigates these claims in The Myths of Safe Pesticides (Acres U.S.A., 2014), translating technical jargon into layman’s terms to break down the five most-repeated myths about pesticide safety. The following excerpt is from chapter 1, “Myth #1: Rigorously Tested.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Myths of Safe Pesticides.

The USPCP and many scientific researchers have expressed concern that the current toxicology testing methodologies are grossly inadequate for children.

The USPCP report stated, “They [children] are at special risk due to their smaller body mass and rapid physical development, both of which magnify their vulnerability to known or suspected carcinogens, including radiation.”

This is a critically important issue given that, according to the USPCP, “Approximately 40 chemicals classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as known, probable, or possible human carcinogens, are used in EPA-registered pesticides now on the market.”

The main food regulator in Australia and New Zealand, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), acknowledged that children had the highest levels of dietary exposure to pesticides when they published the 20th Australian Total Diet Survey due to their size and weight ratios in relation to the amount of residues they receive from food. “In general, the dietary exposure to pesticide residues was highest for the toddler age group. This is due to the high food consumption relative to body weight.” FSANZ, along with most regulators, are not concerned about this because pesticide residues in food are usually below the maximum residue limits. However the USPCP and other scientific researchers have pointed out that the current testing protocols are based on testing mature animals and ignore the specific physiological differences between mature animals and the fetus, newborns, and developing young, including humans.





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