Pesticides and Organic Food – the AAP gets it both right and wrong in separate articles a month apart

organic_foodsNovember 2012 in Pediatric News “Clinical Rounds AAP: Organic Food Not Essential for Kids’ Health”.  It is unfortunate that the AAP did not come right out and state the known benefits of organic food and make a recommendation that when a family can afford to do so they should eat organic.  The Article does say, “Although there may be some benefits in consuming organic products, children will be just as healthy eating a balanced diet of conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products”.  Sad that in this, the first official report on organic foods, the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) comes out saying that, “organic and conventionally produced foods are nutritionally equivalent”. 

They acknowledge that “organic produce does reduce children’s exposure to pesticides” and,  “…some studies suggest that children are uniquely vulnerable to pesticide exposure”, and,  “there are critical windows of brain and nervous system development during which children are particularly at risk.”  They referenced a study in 2007, “that found high levels of organophosphates in female Mexican farm workers who had children with delayed cognitive development at 24 months, suggesting that intrauterine exposure could affect childhood neurocognitive development”.  

I believe the author of this report wanted to stress that eating lots of fruits and vegetables even if they are not organic, is preferable to not eating them at all.  I agree with that point, if it is a financial barrier, but I disagree that these options and choices are equivalent.  We live in a very toxic world where toxins add up and 1+1 may = 5.  We must do everything to minimize pesticide and other toxin exposures and eating organic and avoiding GMO foods is an important first step in the right direction for those who can afford to do so.

December 2012 AAP News “AAP policy: Pesticides pose serous health risk to children”. This important policy statement verifies what we all know as common sense.  “Exposure to pesticides, whether at home, school, or through the food and water systems, causes both acute and chronic effects in children.”  The go on to say, “studies link chemicals to leukemia, brain tumors, neurodevelopment disorders and impaired cognitive development.”  “Exposures during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of birth defects, low birth weight and fetal death”.  Do you suppose it might make sense to eat organic and avoid pesticides while pregnant?  The policy statement was coming along great until, “one recent study has shown that pesticide metabolites in children’s urine was lower when they ate organic fruits and vegetables and went back up when they returned to eating regular produce, Dr Roberts said there is not enough data to tout organic foods as significantly healthier”. 

MY RECOMMENDATION: If you can afford to do so, always choose organic and GMO-free foods.  Avoid the use of in-home pesticides.  Be especially careful if pregnant, and make the food for infants organic. 

Dr. Paul

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