How safe are the pesticides on your produce?
November 27, 1997
Web posted at: 2:32 p.m. EST (1932 GMT)
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Most farmers in the United States use some
sort of pesticide to treat their crops during the growing
season. But how will the chemicals that remain on produce
affect you and your family once you are ready to consume the
Strawberries, for example, reach the market with more
residual chemicals than any other fruit or vegetable. But
the government says the scrumptious berries are still safe to
eat and that in many cases the residual levels are so low
they are undetectable.
"I really think we do a pretty good job of working with
pesticides in this country and that's one of the reasons I'm
not particularly concerned," George Gray of the Harvard
School of Public Health told CNN.
But the regulations governing pesticide levels in the U.S.
food supply are 10 to 20 years old. Public health officials
are concerned the safety levels may not accurately reflect
the risk to children, who weigh less than adults. Plus,
children are more sensitive to chemicals.
Last year, President Clinton signed the Food Quality
Protection Act into law, and the Environmental Protection
Agency is re-evaluating every pesticide used by food growers
in the United States.
"It is said that each of the chemicals in use need to be
thought about very carefully in terms of their human health
risks," said Dr. Richard Jackson, of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. "Especially the risks to children,
and the amounts left on food should be as little as
Health experts warn consumers not to let worries about
chemicals upstage the benefits of eating conventionally grown
fruits and vegetables. Studies repeatedly show that a diet
rich in produce can lower the risk for diabetes, obesity,
heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Correspondent Linda Ciampa contributed to this report.