Consumption of Foods Treated With Pesticides Cause an Increase in Childhood Diseases Thesis

Pages: 5 (1820 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Agriculture

Pesticides

The consumption of Foods treated with pesticides cause an increase in childhood diseases

Pesticides and food

The consumption of Foods treated with pesticides cause an increase in childhood diseases

The evidence that exposure to pesticides leads to increases in various diseases and conditions in children is extensive and incontrovertible. For example, one report notes that, "Children whose parents work with pesticides are more likely to suffer leukemia, brain cancer, and other afflictions" and "Nine studies reviewed by the National Cancer Institute showed a correlation between pesticide exposure and brain cancer" (Fuhrman, 2005). These reports can be added to by many other in-depth studies on this important issue. The literature on this issue from numerous sources therefore stresses the view that there is a cogent link between the use of pesticides and the health issues in children. Conversely, this also points to the value of organic foods in the development of good health and nutrition

However, a central area of concern that is more pervasive and less easy to control is the issue of pesticides in foodstuffs that are ingested by children as well as adults. This paper will explore the issue of the consumption of food that has been treated or exposed to pesticides and the danger that this poses in terms of childhood diseases and negative health conditions. The central thesis that will be expanded on is that there is no doubt that food exposed to pesticides is a health threat to children.

The Problem of Pesticides in Food

Pesticides are chemical substances used in farming that are commonly spayed on vegetables, fruit and grain crops in order to increase yield and prevent loss and damage by insects. The problem is that most commercially produced pesticides are in essence toxic chemicals, which can have a negative effect on the health of those who consume foodstuffs that have been treated with these chemicals. The following report lists the different foods and types of chemicals used in pesticides on different food products. "Aldicarb used on potatoes, Carbendazim used on cereals, oilseed rape, fruit and vegetables, Chlormequat used on wheat, rye, oats, flowers, pears, almonds and tomatoes, Chlorothalonil used to kill fungal disease in crops, Chlorpyrifos used on apples…(Hare). These chemicals are all"… harmful to human health and the environment" (Hare).

This problem is further compounded when one takes into account the fact that "Approximately 37% of the world's grain and 66% of U.S. grain is used for livestock feed" (Pesticides). This means that grain that has been exposed to pesticides becomes an integral part of the meat consumed by people. "When humans consume the meat and dairy products derived from these animals, they are exposed to the toxic ingredients in the pesticides, and at risk of developing health problems as a result" (Pesticides). Another alarming fact is that many crops are genetically modified so that they actually contain certain pesticides in their genetic makeup (Pesticides). These factors are therefore indicative of the extent and seriousness of the problem.

The Effects of Pesticides on Children

There have been numerous studies which link the use of pesticides in the cultivation of crops and the negative health impact on children. As these studies point out, in the first place it should be realized that children are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals as a result of their early stage of development and immune resistance.

The impact of pesticide-impregnated foodstuffs can be seen in data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that, "…the average American child between the ages of six and eleven carries four times the acceptable level of pesticides called organophosphates (which are known to cause nerve damage)" (Toxic Pesticides Above "Safe" Levels in Many U.S. Residents, 2004). It has also been found that even exposure to relatively small amounts of pesticides in food can affect the child in the fetal stage and can result in long-term health damage (Toxic Pesticides Above "Safe" Levels in Many U.S. Residents, 2004). It is interesting to note that the demographics of those most affected by pesticides refer to women and children. An alarming fact is that children are "…the population most vulnerable to pesticides…and are exposed to the highest levels of nerve-damaging organophosphorous (OP) pesticides" (U.S. Population Burdened with High Levels of Pesticides in Their Bodies. 2004).

The above information is supported by official data from organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a report from the EPA, entitled Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides, it is stated that "Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons…" (Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides). These reasons include the aforementioned fact that the developing internal organs of the child are vulnerable and that "…in relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water…"(Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides).

This report also goes on to show that pesticides can block the absorption of essential nutrients that are needed for healthy growth. The report also emphasizes the important fact that "…there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates" (Pesticides and Food: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides). Another official scientific report on the way that pesticides impact child health states that, ….standard chemicals are up to ten times more toxic to children than to adults, depending on body weight. This is due to the fact that children take in more toxic chemicals relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems & #8230;." (U.S. Government Facts: Children's Chemical & Pesticide Exposure via Food Products, 2005)

This report provides some statistics that verify the impact of pesticides in food on children. The fact that children receive fifty percent of their lifetime cancer in their first two years of development has also been attributed to the amount of pesticides found in food. As the report states, "…half of produce currently tested in grocery stores contains measurable residues of pesticides. Laboratory tests of eight industry-leader baby foods reveal the presence of 16 pesticides, including three carcinogens…" and "…In blood samples of children aged 2 to 4, concentrations of pesticide residues are six times higher in children eating conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables compared with those eating organic food" (U.S. Government Facts: Children's Chemical & Pesticide Exposure via Food Products, 2005).

This also makes the important point that children who eat organic foods are exposed to fewer toxins and are therefore generally healthier. In other words, in the light of these facts, organic foods provide the only real alternative for young children if serious health problems are to be avoided.

Exposure to certain chemicals found in pesticides, such as organophosphate pesticides (OP), can lead to various behavior disorders in children as well as learning disabilities, developmental delays and motor dysfunction (U.S. Government Facts: Children's Chemical & Pesticide Exposure via Food Products, 2005). OP is also a chemical found in more than half the pesticides found in commercial use, which makes the situation extremely worrying in terms of the health outcome for children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that, "…one of the main sources of pesticide exposure for U.S. children comes from the food they eat" (U.S. Government Facts: Children's Chemical & Pesticide Exposure via Food Products, 2005).

There are also many reports and studies of the actual effects of food that has been exposed to pesticides. One study of children on Mercer Island (2008) noted the following.

The peer-reviewed study found that the urine and saliva of children eating a variety of conventional foods from area groceries contained biological markers of organophosphates, the family of pesticides spawned by the creation of nerve gas agents in World War II.

(Schneider, 2008)

However, in this study the children who began to eat only organic food rather than conventional foods showed a decrease in the amount of toxins in their bodies. "Once you switch from conventional food to organic, the pesticides (malathion and chlorpyrifos) that we can measure in the urine disappear. The level returns immediately when you go back to the conventional diets" (Schneider, 2008). This suggests the link between pesticides and toxins in the system via the intake of food.

Conclusion

Taking into account the evidence provided by reputable and scientific sources, one has to reach the conclusion that the contamination of commercial foods by pesticides has made them a real danger to the health of the growing child. The obvious deduction that can be drawn from this is that organic foodstuffs, which contain far less commercial toxins, are a much more viable source of food for children.

Many studies and reports note the important fact that organic foods do not contain pesticides and toxins that are detrimental to health. In essence this means that organically grown food will not produce the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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