Why is the USDA Withholding U.S. Pesticide Residue Levels?

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is being urged by the nation’s top physicians, scientists and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to release overdue data on pesticide levels for fruits and vegetables tested in 2010.

For the last two decades, the USDA released these findings within weeks of the start of the new year, but to date, this vital information is still not available to scientists and organizations that rank produce safety based on the amount of pesticide residue found in these USDA produce tests.

A letter was sent to Ag Secretary Vilsack, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg by a group of concerned physicians, scientists and EWG President Ken Cook, urging the release of the study findings, stating that, “We are writing to urge you to release the latest data on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables frequently eaten by babies and children. These data, which the government normally releases by January each year, are overdue.”

The group also calls on the agencies to look further into the adverse effects of toxic pesticides on children, saying, “Children are uniquely sensitive to harmful effects from pesticides. Yet they eat substantial quantities of certain fresh fruits and vegetables – apples, berries, peaches, for example – proven to contain multiple pesticide residues. We urge you to expand testing programs and share ample information with the public about pesticides in all produce, especially those that show up in children’s diets.”

A number of studies on the effects of pesticides have been linked to delayed brain development, and women exposed to pesticides while pregnant bore children with significant IQ deficits.

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Photo: Pandu Adnyana