New study puts pesticide data into perspective

Pesticide residue levels on produce are so low that consumers should not curb purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to a new scientific analysis.

The study, issued by the Watsonville, Calif.-based Alliance for Food and Farming, was written by Robert Krieger, a toxicologist who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California-Riverside.

Krieger developed the toxicological report, â€œPerspective on Pesticide Residues in Fruits and Vegetables,” using information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, according to a news release from the alliance.

Krieger said both adults and children could consume hundreds of servings of produce without ill effect from pesticide exposure.

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“The pesticide exposures that result from consumption of hundreds to thousands of servings of produce with the very highest residues measured represent ‘no effect levels’ of exposure,” according to the report.

The alliance website  also contains an interactive calculator that allows users to figure the number of servings they could eat in a day and still see no effect from residues.

“Of course we know a child couldn’t consume 154 servings of apples in a day, but by providing more science and perspective on the safety of produce, we are hoping to give consumers more information to help them when making purchasing decisions in the produce aisle,” Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, said in the release.

The alliance in July released a scientific analysis of the “Dirty Dozen” list publicized by the Environmental Working Group. According to the alliance, the list is misleading to consumers and detrimental to public health because it discourages fruit and vegetable consumption.

The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989. The group’s membership includes about 50 agriculture associations, commodity groups and individual growers/shippers.