A new study from the Pesticide Action Network says that the more than 1 billion pounds of pesticides used in the United States every year may be having detrimental effects on children’s health. While it may seem like a statement from Captain Obvious, the industry that makes these pesticides insists they are safe. Safe to have on our foods, in our air, and leeched into our water. And just as safe for children as they are for adults.
But, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PAANA) says, that simply isn’t the case. Their research, and research that has come before them, indicates these chemicals (used to kill things incidentally) are contributing to things like autism, birth defects, early puberty, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and asthma.
Researchers drew their conclusions from dozens of studies that linked pesticides with serious health concerns. These studies show that the effects of pesticides on children are even more pronounced than they are in adults. After all, everything is smaller and still developing in the young.
“One of the things that is also really clear from science is that children are just much more vulnerable to pesticide exposure,” said report co-author Kristin Schafer. “In terms of how their bodies work and defense mechanisms work, how much (pesticides) they’re taking in pound for pound, they’re eating more, drinking more, breathing more than an adult, and are much more susceptible to harms that pesticides can pose.”
For their part, the pesticide industry says these findings are simply untrue—that their chemicals are harmless for everyone, that they are tested for safety and wouldn’t be used if they weren’t safe. Of course, their vested interest in the continued belief of their chemicals safety wouldn’t be playing a role in their insistence, would it? Pesticide companies and companies like Monsanto, for instance, are notorious for funding studies that “prove” their safety—because truly objective studies would hurt their bottom line.
The effects of pesticides aren’t pretty. In addition to causing significant harm to children, pesticides have also been tied to infertility, birth defects, obesity, and cancer among adults as well.
While keeping our children away from pesticide-laden produce, for instance, can decrease their exposure, these chemicals are everywhere. Until the corporations making money off of them are forced to admit they are causing serious damage to the health of all humankind, we can’t expect their prevalence to change.