Pesticides

Why It Matters

Here in the United States, pesticide use is estimated to be over a billion pounds every year. These agrochemicals are poisoning farmworkers and farms, pets, birds, bees and wildlife as well as rivers and streams, and ultimately, our bodies through the foods on our plates. While pesticides are hazardous to our health and the environment, they have yet permanently solve pest problems; Instead, new breeds of superbugs and superweeds are now resistant to the toxic pesticides designed to control them.

By looking at just a few of the pesticides that contribute to American agriculture today, we can also see the unnecessary harm of their application. Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide that is linked to reduced IQ and autism in children whose moms were exposed. Glyphosate, better known as Roundup, is the most widely used pesticide in the U.S. Its use has only skyrocketed during the last 20 years because of the rising popularity of genetically-modified crops that are tolerant of this weed killer.

Glyphosate has been linked to cancer and can disrupt a body’s hormones as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC). Glyphosate is now in most of us as recent studies have detected its presence in the urine samples of 70 to 93 percent of the US population.

Pesticides have been a health and environmental problem for decades. Rachel Carson’s famous book is over 50 years old! We can’t count on the federal government to address this public and environmental health crisis.

What We’re Doing

CEH’s independent testing of a variety of breakfast cereals found many common brands of conventional products are contaminated with the weed killer glyphosate. CEH also recently found significant contamination in 70 percent of the products we tested served in school lunches across the country to K-12 schools to children, including big name brands like Quaker. We are using these findings to encourage schools to transition to glyphosate free, organic alternatives.

At the end of 2017, EPA scientists called for a broad ban on chlorpyrifos that would include agricultural uses. However, the Trump EPA reversed course, rejected the science, and has put the interests of the pesticide industry before our children’s health. CEH is calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom and California’s EPA to take immediate action to end all uses of chlorpyrifos, in accordance with the scientific consensus that the chemical threatens public health.

Our belief in a toxic- and pesticide-free world drives us to use every tool at our disposal to transform corporate behavior—from suing bad actors based on rigorous scientific testing, to working with forward-thinking companies. Stopping this White House from wrecking our health to pushing local and state solutions that protect us from harm, it’s also what drives us to win.

What You Can Do

There are reasons for hope. Sales of organic food and other products now total almost $50 billion every year in the U.S. – that’s $50 billion worth of products that provide our families with healthy food; are grown without genetic engineering; protect farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities; and are good for the planet.

Here’s how you help protect your health and your families while accelerating the shift to organics and lowering its costs:

  • Avoid toxic pesticides by buying organic foods whenever available and affordable.
  • Switching to organic foods in the short term and advocating for stronger chemical regulation in the long term is beneficial to all eaters, especially people who are exposed to the highest levels of pesticides because of their work, such as groundskeepers and farmworkers.
  • Ask your children’s schools to add organic cereals to their menus. For advice about effective ways to do this, contact us at food@ceh.org.

Resources

CEH Press Release: Trump EPA Fails American Children on Toxic Brain Pesticide
CEH In the News: There’s a Toxic Weed Killer on the Menu in K-12 Schools Across the US
CEH In the News: Radio Interview with CEH’s Caroline Cox
CEH Report: Ten Reasons Not to Use Pesticides
CEH Blog: Dow: The Fox Guarding the Henhouse