Are foods in compliance with U.S. standards truly safe?

Pesticide levels in the U.S. food supply are generally in compliance with federal standards, according to a recent report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But scientific experts say that even though most foods tested contain only trace amounts of pesticides, low level exposures over time could be contributing to a range of health problems, particularly for children.

“Clearly the current tolerance levels [for pesticides] protect us from acute toxicity,” said Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a November 27, 2018 article in Environmental Health News. “The problem is that it is not clear to what extent long-term low-level exposure to pesticide residues through food may or may not be health hazards.”

Chavarro, who found in a recent study that exposure to pesticide residues could be reducing women’s chances of conceiving and bearing children, added, “There are probably many other health effects [from pesticides]; we just haven’t studied them sufficiently to make an adequate risk assessment.”

Read the Environmental Health News article: Chemicals on our food: When “safe” may not really be safe

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Pesticides in produce linked with reduced fertility in women (Harvard Chan School news)

Exposure to pesticides in childhood linked to cancer (Harvard Chan School news)

Can eating organic foods cut cancer risk? (Harvard Chan School news)