A team based at the University of Washington in Seattle has published an important study showing that in school-age children, a diet composed of predominantly organic food “…provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorous (OP) pesticides.”
Twenty-three children were enrolled in the study, which included three phases of testing for OP insecticide metabolites in urine. The first followed a period when the children consumed a diet containing conventionally grown foods, the second came after five days of a predominantly organic diet, and the third, after a return to a conventional diet.
All 23 children had OP insecticide metabolites in their urine in phase one testing, while levels were below the limit of detection during phase two, following the consumption of mostly organic food for just five days. Once the children were back on their normal, conventional food in phase three, the levels of insecticide metabolites in urine returned to those found in phase one.
This carefully designed and conducted study confirms the findings of a similar study conducted by many of the same team members (Curl et al., 2003). Together, the two studies support two key conclusions.
First, on a daily basis, the majority of the exposures to OP insecticides among children are coming through the diet and are the result of OP insecticide use on crops, rather than uses in the homes, schools, and residential environments.
Second, consuming food grown using organic production methods can virtually eliminate exposures to a dangerous class of insecticides known to disrupt neurological development in infants and children.
Authors: Chensheng Lu, Kathryn Toepel, Rene Irish, Richard Fenske, Dana Barr, and Robert Bravo
Environmental Health Perspectives, Online September 1, 2005.
Authors: Cynthia Curl, Richard Fenske, Katherine Elgethun
Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 111 (2003): pages 377-382.