Pesticides in kids linked to ADHD
Researcher advises parents to buy organic, wash produce
Exposure to pesticides used on common kid-friendly foods — including frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries and celery — appears to boost the chances that children will be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, new research shows.
Youngsters with high levels of pesticide residue in their urine, particularly from widely used types of insecticide such as malathion, were more likely to have ADHD, the behavior disorder that often disrupts school and social life, scientists in the United States and Canada found.
Kids with higher-than-average levels of one pesticide marker were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as children who showed no traces of the poison.
“I think it’s fairly significant. A doubling is a strong effect,” said Maryse F. Bouchard, a researcher at the University of Montreal in Quebec and lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The take-home message for parents, according to Bouchard: “I would say buy organic as much as possible,” she said. “I would also recommend washing fruits and vegetables as much as possible.”
Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure in children, according to the National Academy of Sciences, and much of that exposure comes from favorite fruits and vegetables. In 2008, detectable concentrations of malathion were found in 28 percent of frozen blueberry samples, 25 percent of fresh strawberry samples a government report found. Full Story
Agriculture nomination steams greens
When the Obama administration announced that it was nominating a former pesticide lobbyist to be the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, it sparked more than the usual Internet chatter.
“Obama’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator Nominee Is a Pesticide Pusher;” screamed one website. ‘Obama’s Ag Policy Is Giving Me Whiplash,” lamented another. “Obama Backtreads,” scolded a third.
The nomination of Islam Siddiqui, vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, struck an off-key note among environmentalists — and not just because they think pesticides and chemicals are unsafe for humans and detrimental to the environment. Perhaps more important was the sense of betrayal. After all, it was Michelle Obama herself who had demanded a pesticide-free garden for the first family at the White House, suggesting — environmentalists thought — that the Obama administration was sympathetic to their cause.
“We are seriously disheartened by this appointment,” said Katherine Ozer, executive director of the National Family Farm Coalition, which represents family farmers. “While we have been encouraged by the first lady and USDA’s promotion of sustainable agriculture and local food, Siddiqui’s role will undermine those goals both here and abroad by promoting our current broken, chemical-intensive, industrial-agriculture model.”
The Pesticide Action Network, which documents what it says are the hazardous impacts of pesticides on crop production, farm animals and humans, said Siddiqui’s nomination last month called into question “just how committed the Obama administration is to promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing hunger in the developing world.” Full Story
Petition to withdraw the nomination of Islam Siddiqui