For years the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been publishing its lists of vegetables and fruits that supposedly are contaminated with the largest amounts of pesticides. Although the greatest preponderance of the produce samples have only very low traces of pesticides, EWG loudly trumpets which ones are most affected, with the implication, of course, that these should be avoided or at least that organic versions should be used. Their implication, of course, is that organic produce has fewer pesticide residues, although they have never listed those approved for use on organic produce.
Now, the authors of Consumer Reports (CR), always wanting to be as politically correct as possible, have seconded the EWG s concerns about conventional produce. CR s advice mirrors that of EWG even though pesticide levels are below EPA s tolerance limits, we should still be afraid. While noting that farmworkers who work with these pesticides regularly and have long-term exposure, have evidenced links to Alzheimer s Disease and other ills, they fail to mention that such high exposure levels have little to do with the traces of residues on the conventionally grown produce that most of us eat.
So does CR advocate avoiding produce if you can t get the organic versions? No indeed. They admit that the health benefits of fruits and vegetable are real, and cite studies that estimate that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption could prevent 20,000 cancer cases annually.
They don t note, however, that such studies were not based on consumption of organic produce but on conventionally grown versions. That rather contradicts their basic premise, don t you think?
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava commented CR should stick to evaluating washing machines and cars, and not venture into giving nutrition advice. Finding traces of pesticides on produce doesn t mean they pose a risk to health, and certainly shouldn t give rise to the level of concern that EWG and now CR attempts to raise.
For scientifically sound information on pesticides and health, look here.