Researchers from Harvard University

used USDA test data and methods similar to ours to classify produce as having high or low pesticides. Remarkably, their lists of high and low pesticide crops largely overlap with our Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.

Fertility Studies' Classification of Pesticide Rresidues

High pesticide residue score: Apples, apple sauces, blueberries, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, pears, peaches, potatoes, plums, spinach, strawberries, raisins, sweet peppers, tomatoes, winter squash

Low to moderate pesticide residue score: Apple juice, avocados, bananas, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, eggplant, grapefruit, lentils, lettuce, onions, or- anges, orange juice, peas, prunes, sum- mer squash, sweet potatoes, tofu, to- mato sauces, zucchini

The Harvard researchers also found

that people who ate greater quantities of crops high in pesticides had higher levels

of urinary pesticides and lower fertility. Alternatively, people who ate a pro-fertil- ity diet, which included the low pesticide crops, among other foods and nutrients, like whole grains and folic acid, were more likely to have a successful pregnancy. From these studies, it is unclear

whether the positive effects associated with organic foods are directly and exclu- sively caused by lower pesticide expo- sures. People who eat higher amounts of organic produce tend to be more health- conscious in general, making it difficult to determine the exact cause of an observed health outcome. Clinical trials – in which participants are monitored before and after switching to an organic diet – may be bet- ter able to identify cause-and-effect links between diet and outcomes. But so far, the clinical trials for or- ganic foods have been short-term studies, spanning days or months, although health benefits from eating organic foods may take much longer to become evident. Until long-term clinical trials are com- pleted, the published observational studies provide the best evidence in support of eating organic. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that

said children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The academy cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life to pediat- ric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems. It advised its members to urge parents to consult “reli- able resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.” A key resource it cited was EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pes- ticides in Produce. An EWG investigation published last

year found that for most pesticides, the EPA does not apply additional restrictions to safeguard children’s health. The landmark 1996 Food Quality Protection Act required the EPA to protect children’s health by ap- plying an extra margin of safety to legal limits for pesticides in food. Yet, as our investigation found, this tenfold margin of safety was not included in the EPA’s allow- able limits for almost 90 percent of the most common pesticides.

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS Genetically engineered crops, or

GMOs, are most commonly found in pro- cessed foods rather than in fresh produce. Corn syrup and corn oil, produced from predominantly GMO starchy field corn, are commonly found in processed foods. However, you may find genetically modi- fied zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, papaya and apples in U.S. markets, though only papayas are predominantly GMO. Under a law passed in 2016, begin- ning in 2022, some GMO food products in the U.S. must be labeled. However, based on the final rule released in 2018, these labels may be difficult to interpret, with confusing terms like “bioengineered.” Until the law takes effect, consumers who want to avoid GMOs may choose organic zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, pa- paya, apples and potatoes. Processed goods that are certified organic or bear Non-GMO Project Verified labels can also be trusted to be GMO-free. EWG provides several resources – in-

cluding EWG’s Shopper’s Guide To Avoid- ing GMO Food, the Food Scores database and EWG’s Healthy Living app – to help consumers identify foods likely to contain genetically engineered ingredients.


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