Originally published by: The Guardian
Studies have linked long-term health issues, while regulators insist breaches of safe limits are rare.
What are pesticides?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines pesticides as any chemical substance used to regulate, prevent or destroy plants or pests – usually insects, rodents or microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria – or that acts as a nitrogen stabilizer in soil.
One billion pounds of conventional pesticides are used annually in the US, according to the latest EPA data available. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which monitors residues in food, found tested samples very rarely exceeded limits on pesticides and other chemicals, which the EPA says are calculated on “reasonable certainty of no harm”.
Residues are in up to 70% of produce sold in the US, according to the latest annual analysis of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data by the health advocacy group Environmental Working Group.
Some persistent pesticides have been found to concentrate in the milk and meat of farmed animals through contaminated animal feed, various researchers around the world have found, as well as in fish in contaminated waters. A 20-year study by the US Geological Survey, for example, found pesticides at levels potentially harmful to aquatic life in 60% of the country’s rivers and streams in agricultural areas (that figure jumps to 90% in urban areas).