May 2015 Issue

Eating Organic Means Less Pesticide Exposure

Previous studies have shown that the nutritional content of organically grown produce may not differ significantly from conventionally grown produce, but data have suggested that organic produce may have lower pesticide residues, findings which are confirmed in a new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

University of Washington researchers assessed long-term exposure to 14 organophosphate pesticides among more than 4,000 subject participants, looking at the influence of organic produce consumption on exposure. Exposure to pesticides was estimated by combining data from the typical intake of specific foods with average pesticide levels, in addition to an assessment of urinary pesticide metabolite levels. The group that consumed organic produce had about half the pesticide exposure of the group that ate conventional produce. (Note: all levels of pesticide exposure were well within established levels of safety.)

This research adds to our knowledge that choosing organic produce can lower your exposure to pesticides. However, we don’t know enough about the actual health threats associated with this exposure. Stay tuned for more science on the subject; the University of Washington researchers plan to explore the relationship between dietary exposure to pesticides and health outcomes.