Pesticides. They are one of the most environmentally harmful aspects of industrialized agriculture, and they are the reason that so many people have started to add organic foods to their diet.
Many people think that washing their conventional fruits and vegetables before eating removes the toxic residue pesticides leave behind, but that’s usually not true. Besides food, humans can also be exposed to pesticides in water and air, and those who work on farms that use pesticides are at risk for even greater exposure.
To provide consumers with current, accurate information about the dangerous pesticides that are present on the foods we eat every day, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) recently released the What’s On My Food? app for the iPhone.
This free downloadable app allows people to search for their favorite foods, to see which pesticides are used and how to best remove them. You can also search by type of pesticide to learn the dangers of ingestion. The most comprehensive datasource of it’s kind, What’s On My Food? links USDA food testing data to toxicology (i.e. health effects) data compiled from multiple authoritative sources.
Although the EPA does regulate agricultural chemicals to some extent, it does not investigate them fully or caution the public about the risks associated with being exposed to many chemical pesticides at a time. This means that walking down the produce aisle, touching and smelling different items, exposes you to an unknown toxic cocktail that could result in anything from a headache to serious disease.
PAN reports that, “Most of us are born with persistent pesticides and other chemicals already in our bodies, passed from mother to child during fetal development. The human health impacts linked to pesticide exposure range from birth defects and childhood brain cancer in the very young, to Parkinsons’ Disease in the elderly. In between are a variety of other cancers, developmental and neurological disorders, reproductive and hormonal system disruptions, and more.”
Not surprisingly, the European Union has taken the global lead on this issue, adopting a “precautionary principle” for all regulatory decisions involving chemical pesticides. Given the U.S. government’s heavy involvement with industrial agriculture, it has been reluctant to take this health-centered approach, instead assuming that chemical pesticides are “innocent until proven guilty.”
The PAN’s “What’s On My Food?” website is extremely informative, even if you have no intention of downloading the app, with comprehensive sections like “How Much is Too Much?” and information on the methodology that was employed to evaluate the health risks of certain pesticides listed.
Image Credit: www.gentelugarysalud.org
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