Alright, Ged, I'm still sporting a black eye from the first round of Paper Chase (damn you Huffington Post), but we didn't give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor…
First, I'd like to reiterate my perspective. I'm not for or against organic produce, I'm for best practices and more knowledge. Where this has led me is to try and limit unnecessary exposure to chemicals when possible (sunscreen = no oxybenzone, personal care products = no parabens). As it relates to this conversation, I see no distinction between organic pesticides/herbicides and conventional ones. To me, they are both chemicals that in an ideal world I would prefer to avoid.
Since these chemicals can't be entirely avoided, I support thorough safety studies. The effectiveness of risk assessment for pesticides/herbicides seems similar to the vetting of industrial chemicals in general, and even new drugs. We are well protected as a population from acutely toxic compounds, but occasionally chemicals that have been approved are eventually deemed hazardous and ultimately pulled from the market (anybody on here could rattle off a list of things that have been banned).
Now, my spidey-sense is saying you'll be hell-bent on refuting anything I write, so I'll enumerate for convenience;
1) 1 + 1 = 2
2) Headlines like this
are a dime-a-dozen, which for me causes some level of concern. Again, anybody on here can find plenty of similarly alarming studies (I didn't read it, just grabbed it as an example, if you want to debunk one, please do the PNAS and just PM me the retraction).
3) There's the environment to consider as well. Here's an abstract from a bee guy
. Maybe he's making it up? It's happened before. (debunk to Science) It also underscores how the safety profile of a compound can change over time.It has taken more than a decade to unravel some of the mechanisms through which neonicotinoids affect the integrity of ecosystems.
4) Here's a $25 million look at GMOs
. I only posted this because I'm curious as to whether just the active ingredients in pesticides/herbicides are tested, or the final formulation? They identify it as a specific goal.Is the mixture of chemicals in Roundup herbicide more or less toxic than active ingredient glyphosate?
5) Finally, here's a link
to something barely on the radar. (no need to debunk) It's a pretty hot area of research, who knows if there's any merit to the idea.
So I'm off topic a bit, but just as many are asking for proof that organic produce is healthier, I'm asking for proof that pesticides/herbicides are safe. If not, I'd like to know what the safest choices are, whether it's conventional produce and their residues, or organic produce and those residues, or some combination.
Fortunately, improvements in technology will eventually answer these questions. Just as technological innovation has dramatically decreased the cost of DNA sequencing, I think technological improvements will make broader screening of the accumulated compounds in people much more feasible. Couple that with the inexorable march towards better biomarkers, and all of this will be sussed out in the not too distant future.
Hopefully everything turns out to be safe. I like Wegmans produce much more than Whole Foods.