One of the main reasons for your entire family to eat organic is the harmful effect pesticides have on children. Intuitively we understand that chemicals are damaging for developing bodies, but there is not enough information on the extent to just how damaging the effects are. An article run by the New York Times last year held this shocking title: “Pesticide Exposure in Womb Affects I.Q.”, with studies showing that babies with high levels of pesticide exposure in-utero had lower IQ scores than peers when reaching school age. The research was based on data collected from 1000 pregnant women and their babies over the period of a decade.
As organic parents, we understand the health effects of pesticides. We understand that over-exposure to chemicals can lead to certain forms of cancer, gastro-intestinal illness, neurological disorders and even allergies in adults. In the case of children, the effects are stronger because small amounts of chemicals have higher concentrations in their smaller and still-developing bodies. They have more chemical ingestion per kilo of body weight than adults do.
Agrochemicals are linked to neurological disorders because of the capability of pesticides to disrupt neurotransmitter control. Organophosphates are a class of pesticides used primarily to disrupt nerve functions in insects. According to “A Generation in Jeopardy – How pesticides are undermining our children’s health and intelligence”, (found Here) “Organophosphate pesticides can block the normal functioning of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that degrades and thus controls a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. When the functioning of the enzyme is blocked, acetylcholine is not degraded and neurons continue firing instead of shutting down after they’ve accomplished their mission (9).” This disrupts the functions of the nervous system. The pesticide chlorpyrifos has been shown to interfere with cell replication, especially harmful in-utero. Finally, the insecticide pyrethroid inhibits the functions of neurons by disturbing the sodium channels.
Increases in chemical exposure during a child’s early development phase are also linked to rising rates of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism. Some symptoms of ADHD include an inability to focus, hyperactivity, difficulty in concentrating on and finishing tasks, impulsiveness. Symptoms of autism include difficulties in communicating verbally and non-verbally, relating to others and the world around them as well as thinking and behaving flexibly. Children with higher levels of organophosphates found in their urine have also shown to have increased likelihoods of having ADHD.
Another study conducted in California, USA’s Central Valley, where a significant portion of the nation’s food is grown, revealed that mothers exposed early to pesticides like endosulfan and dicofol, both of which are currently used in India (although endosulfan was banned this year, it is still being phasing out slowly), this risk of autism was greatly increased. According to an article published by Times of India this last April, 20 lakh cases of autism were reported in 2003, there are reportedly 1.36 crore autism patients in India at present. In 2003, Greenpeace conducted a study showing that children in Indian farming communities also had high incidents of developmental disorders and deformities because of their heightened exposure to chemical farming.
We choose organic not just for our children but for all India’s children. In wrapping up this article we leave you with one more piece of information: A study in Norway of agricultural census data found that of 323,359 children under 14, those who grew up on a farm—combined with a high level of pesticides purchased by the family—were nearly twice as likely have brain tumors. The children of farmers are the most vulnerable, and we should try to protect them as well. While buying organic protects our children from cancers and developmental disorders, it also helps the children of farmers who are able to grow organically. If you get a chance, do read the study and article linked above and share with your loved ones. Pesticides do have a greater effect on the younger generation. We thank you for supporting initiatives like ours that make organic food more easily available and incentive farmers to grow organic. By buying organic you help preserve the future generation.
I Say Organic. What do you say?