This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made big news when it failed to take a stance on recommending organic food for children. The mainstream media ran with news, and the agribusiness was ecstatic.
The AAP press release states:
To offer guidance to parents – and the pediatricians caring for their children’s health – the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted an extensive analysis of scientific evidence surrounding organic produce, dairy products and meat. The conclusion is mixed: While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.However, in the long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease. However, no large studies in humans have been performed that specifically address this issue.
I feel like this is a mixed message. The AAP is recognizing that organic food is healthier for lack of pesticide residue and bacteria, yet it is not stating it makes you healthier. Why won’t they take a stand?
The AAP does recommend children eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The press release goes on to state:
“At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children – especially young children whose brains are developing – are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Joel Forman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and one of the lead authors of the AAP clinical report.
The timing of the news near election time might have had an impact on the failure of the GMO labeling Proposition 37 in California. I can’t help but feel that was on purpose.
Even though the AAP acknowledges that many pesticides are neurotoxins, that studies have linked exposure to pesticides to neurological harm in children, and that a recent peer-reviewed study correlated higher pesticide residue levels in children with higher rates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the AAP is cautious about reaching a conclusion regarding the harmful effects of pesticides.
Why such a reckless approach? AAP explains, “No studies to date have experimentally examined the causal relationship between exposure to pesticides directly from conventionally grown foods and adverse neurodevelopmental health outcomes.”
With this statement, the AAP suggests that it considers existing knowledge about toxic pesticides to be inadequate and incomplete for the purposes of recommending organic foods for children, which have been shown in peer-reviewed published studies to radically reduce children’s pesticide exposure.
The pediatric group suggests, as agrochemical manufacturers have for decades, that the question of whether pesticides harm children will remain unanswered until results from experiments provide definite proof of harm. With this expectation, the AAP joins the agribusiness and pesticide lobbyists in setting an impossible standard.
I will weigh with the side of caution and feed my family only organic food. I don’t trust the pesticide industry or agribusiness, and I have always been cautious when it comes to the AAP’s recommendations
Photo: Vegetarian food – little girl with organic lettuce from Bigstock