Pesticides and other chemicals in non-organic food creates a storm of toxicity in the human body, especially in children. We choose organic because we know, for example, that children fed an organic diet have much lower levels of metabolites of high-risk insecticides in their bodies. We also know that choosing organic food reduces the risk of exposure to toxic pesticides in our diet. The 2008–09 President’s Panel on Cancer report stated, “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals.” Many of these chemicals are known or suspected to cause cancer or disrupt our hormones, mimicking testosterone or estrogen, its authors continued. “Nearly 1,400 pesticides … registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for agricultural and nonagricultural uses…have been linked to brain/central nervous system, breast, colon, lung, ovarian cancers…as well as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” and more.
Organic food is a healthy choice for all of us but especially for kids. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to chemicals, in part because their immune systems are still developing and in part because, pound for pound, they’re exposed to more chemical residues than adults. Another reason is that children and babies tend to eat a lot more of certain foods than adults…think bananas or apples.
The developing fetus in the womb is perhaps most vulnerable of all: three studies by scientists at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Mount Sinai Hospital tracked women exposed to higher amounts of organophosphate pesticides while pregnant and found that once those children reached elementary-school age, they had IQs averaging several points below those of their peers.
Chronic toxicity end points identified in epidemiologic studies include adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital anomalies, pediatric cancers, neurobehavioral and cognitive deficits and asthma.The evidence base is most robust for associations to pediatric cancer and adverse neurodevelopment. Multiple case-control studies and evidence reviews support a role for insecticides in risk of brain tumors and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Prospective contemporary birth cohort studies in the United States link early-life exposure to organophosphate insecticides with reductions in IQ and abnormal behaviors associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism.
While we can’t limit all of our children’s exposures to toxins in the environment, we do have a say in the food they eat. And one of the best ways to limit their exposure to these chemicals is to choose an organic diet.