Every year US farmers use about a billion pounds of chemicals on crops, including the fruits, nuts, and vegetables many parents beg their kids to eat. The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration are charged with ensuring that these chemicals don’t endanger consumers, and both agencies test the food supply for pesticide residues each year. They focus on foods eaten by babies and children, whose developing bodies are particularly sensitive to toxic chemicals, and typically report that pesticide residues in these products rarely exceed safety standards.
Yet, experts say, the agencies’ pesticide-monitoring approach suffers from several limitations that make it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions about pesticide risks to the nation’s food supply. What’s more, government agencies don’t monitor risks to farmworkers who labor among those chemicals, or to pregnant women and children who live near agricultural fields.
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Issue: 12 Vol: 8