New online tool links government food test results to pesticide toxicology science


Searchable database shows pesticide residues still common

San Francisco, June 17, 2009 — Ever wonder about pesticides on your food? Or in your drinking water? In particular, which of those pesticides are most hazardous? A new tool from the nonprofit group Pesticide Action Network sheds new science-driven light on the invisible problem of pesticide residues.
Today’s launch of the What’s on My Food? database makes the results of government tests for pesticide residues in food available online in a searchable, easy-to-use format. The database shows what pesticides are found on each food, in what amount, and – for the first time – links those residues to the health effects associated with exposure to each of the chemicals.
“This kind of public visibility around pesticides is particularly needed in the U.S.,  since regulators base their decisions on toxicology studies that are almost all done by industry,” explains Dr. Brian Hill, Senior Scientist with Pesticide Action Network and the primary developer of the What’s on My Food? database. “Nearly 900 million pounds of pesticides are used in the U.S. every year, yet regulations depend on studies that are not peer-reviewed and are kept hidden behind the veil of ‘confidential business information.’” Hill notes that the 900 million figure is long overdue for updating, as the most recent pesticide use figures from the Environmental Protection Agency are for 2001.
In addition to highlighting the potential direct health effects of pesticide residues, the What’s on My Food? database points to the many problems associated with pesticide use before food reaches the kitchen table. Widespread use of agricultural chemicals threatens the health of workers and those in nearby communities and schools, as well as harming wildlife and contaminating ecosystems, according to the site.
“It’s time to shift away from reliance on these dangerous chemicals,” says Kathryn Gilje, Pesticide Action Network’s Executive Director. “In Europe governments have recognized that a healthy population and clean environment are worth more than short-term industry profits. They are moving toward safer and healthier ways to produce food, and we need to do the same.”
In the Take Action section of the site, Pesticide Action Network calls on consumers not only to vote with their dollars by choosing organic foods whenever possible, but also to become involved as “food citizens” demanding a clean, green and fair food production system.
Launch of the new database coincides with the release of Food, Inc., a film by the producers of An Inconvenient Truth that documents the dangerous health and environmental impacts of industrialized food production. Food reporter Michael Pollan calls Food, Inc. “the most important and powerful film about our food system in a generation.”

Reference: Pesticide Action Network North America, Searchable database shows pesticide residues still common, June 18, 2009


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