The Daily Telegraph

Pesticides in food may damage the brain

- By Laura Donnelly

CONSUMERS should consider going organic because pesticides on foods are far more dangerous than was thought, causing damage to the human brain, a study suggests.

The research, published by the European Parliament, warns of the “very high costs” of current levels of exposure to pesticides – especially for children and pregnant women.

It could result in new limits on pesticide levels or changes to the labelling of foodstuffs under EU laws which require the UK to review its policies by next year.

The study suggests that the damage caused by pesticides across the EU amounts to at least £125billion a year, based on the loss of lifetime income from such damage.

The report warns of increasing evidence that residues from insecticid­es are damaging the brain, and reducing the IQ of the population. And it raises concerns that the chemicals could also cause cancer and damage to the reproducti­ve system. The research, commission­ed by the European Parliament, is a review of scientific evidence about the impact of organic food on human health.

It says previous attempts to assess the impact of pesticides have disregarde­d too much of the research, raising concerns that regulation of insecticid­es has been inadequate.

The study was carried out by the parliament’s Scientific Foresight Unit, led by the Swedish University of

Agricultur­al Scientists. “At least 100 different pesticides are known to cause adverse neurologic­al effects in adults, and all of these substances must therefore be suspected of being capable of damaging developing brains as well,” the report states.

“Such adverse effects are likely to be lasting and one main outcome is cognitive deficits, often expressed in terms of losses of IQ points.

“The combined evidence suggests that current exposures to certain pesticides in the EU may cost at least €125 billion per year, as calculated from the loss of lifetime income due to the lower IQS associated with prenatal exposure.”

It goes on to describe the calculatio­n as “almost certainly an underestim­ate” as it does not consider the possible contributi­on made by pesticides to conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

The researcher­s recommend limiting exposure to non-organic fruit and vegetables – and say particular care should be taken by pregnant women and children.

“The evidence reviewed in this report shows that a decreased exposure from the general population is desirable from a human health perspectiv­e, in light of the findings from epidemiolo­gical studies that indicate very high costs of current levels of pesticide exposures,” the report says.

Previous attempts to assess the risks have not taken proper account of epidemiolo­gical studies, which look at the health of whole population­s, instead of limiting themselves to scientific trials, it suggests.

“Of major concern, these risk assessment­s disregard evidence from epidemiolo­gical studies that show negative effects of low-level exposure to organophos­phate insecticid­es on children’s cognitive developmen­t,” it states.

And it raises concerns that risk assessment of pesticides is inadequate, failing to examine any increased risk of cancer, as well as impacts on the body’s hormones and nervous system.

Lead author, Assistant Professor Axel Mie, said: “Several practices in organic agricultur­e, in particular the low use of pesticides and antibiotic­s, offer benefits for human health.”

Under an EU directive, member states are required to publish a national plan to reduce risks from pesticides every five years, with the UK required to update its restrictio­ns by 2018.

US studies have shown women’s exposure to pesticides during pregnancy were associated with negative impacts on their children’s IQ and neurobehav­ioural developmen­t.

Dr Chris Hartfield, of the National Farmers’ Union, said: “Pesticides are among the most stringentl­y regulated products in the world. This European Parliament report makes it quite clear that our understand­ing in these areas is limited, the evidence is not conclusive.”

 ??  ?? Mr Varadkar did not win the bulk of Fine Gael’s membership but was backed by 51 council members and 73 of the party’s MPS
Mr Varadkar did not win the bulk of Fine Gael’s membership but was backed by 51 council members and 73 of the party’s MPS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom