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Busting organic myth: Pesticide residues widely present in organic foods

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

There are several different reasons people are willing to pay more for organic produce, but many consumers do so believing that it is a way avoid pesticide residues. That widely held belief is unfounded. Here is why:

  1. There are definitely pesticides used in the growing of organic crops. There is an extensive list of pesticides that can be used by organic farmers. That list is not based on safety, but rather on whether the material is considered “natural.” There are residues of those materials on the harvested products. “Natural” does not automatically mean “safe.” Indeed, some of the most toxic chemicals known come from nature.
  2. Residues of synthetic pesticides are also frequently found on organic produce, even though they are not materials that are approved for use on organic. The Canadian Health Authority conducted surveys to check for residues in 2011/13 and they found synthetic pesticide residues on 46% of the organic produce samples. In 2010/11, a similar survey was conducted by the USDA, and they also found synthetics on 43% of organic produce samples. What both of these agencies found wasn’t alarming, but it definitely doesn’t fit the marketing claims about organic as a way to “avoid synthetic pesticide residues.”

The reason I feel the need to challenge the “avoid pesticides via organic” myth is that it causes many consumers to feel unwarranted marketing and peer pressure to spend more for organic. The guilt tripping is particularly intense for moms. The not-so-subtle message is, “if you really cared about your family or your health, you would spend the money for organic.” Whether this leads people to spend more than they should, to buy less total produce, or just to feel bad, it is a destructive outcome based on disinformation. Yes, there are low level pesticide residues on both categories of produce, but in neither case should those residues dissuade you from enjoying all the health benefits that come with eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

Read the full, original article: Why You Can Feel Guilt-free Buying Non-Organic Produce

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