A groundbreaking peer-reviewed study published in the journal Environmental Research found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduced the levels of synthetic pesticides found in all participants in just one week.

On average, the pesticides detected dropped by 60.5% after six days of eating an all-organic diet.

The study found significant reductions in pesticides that have been associated with increased risk of autism, cancers, autoimmune disorders, infertility, hormone disruption, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Researchers from UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Friends of the Earth tested the urine of four racially diverse American families in Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Baltimore after eating their typical diet of conventional food for six days and then after a controlled diet of all organic food for six days.

Key Findings

  1. The most significant declines involved organophosphates, a class of highly neurotoxic pesticides linked to brain damage in children: the study found a 95% drop in levels of malathion, a probable human carcinogen, and a nearly two thirds reduction in chlorpyrifos. Organophosphates are so toxic to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a full ban.[i] Organophosphate exposure is associated with Associated with endocrine disruption, autism, learning disabilities, reduced IQ, attention disorders, delayed motor development, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, decreased sperm quality, and cancers.[ii],[iii],[iv],[v],[vi]
  2. The neonicotinoid pesticide clothianidin dropped by 83%. Neonicotinoids are among the most commonly detected pesticide residues in baby foods.[vii] They are associated with endocrine disruption and changes in behavior and attention, including an association with autism spectrum disorder. [viii],[ix],[x] Neonicotinoids are also a main driver of massive pollinator and insect losses, leading scientist to warn of a ‘second silent spring’. [xi],[xii]
  3. Levels of pyrethroids were halved. Exposure to this class of pesticides is associated with endocrine disruption, adverse neurodevelopmental, immunological and reproductive effects, increased risk of Parkinson’s and sperm DNA damage. [xiii],[xiv],[xv],[xvi]
  4. Finally, 2,4-D dropped by 37 percent. 2,4-D is one of two ingredients in the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange. It is among the top five most commonly used pesticides in the U.S.[xvii] and is associated with endocrine disruption, thyroid disorders, increased risk of Parkinson’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, developmental and reproductive toxicity and damage to the liver, immune system and semen quality. [xviii],[xix]

Read the full results of the study at OrganicForAll.org.

For more updates on Rodale Institute research and programming, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.