February 15, 2019

New research from the University of California, the Commonweal Institute and Friends of the Earth shows that eating an organic-only diet, even for one week, can reduce the prevalence of pesticides in a person’s body by up to 95 percent.

In a video that Friends of the Earth produced to document the study, Devon Payne-Sturges, assistant professor at the Maryland Institute of Applied Environmental Health, speaks about the study’s implications for our understanding of how to cultivate a healthy diet.

“This study shows that organic works,” Payne-Sturges says. “An organic diet dramatically reduces your exposures to pesticides.”

Payne-Sturges’ research focuses on the racial and economic disparities in exposures to environmental contaminants and the health risks associated with them. Her work aims to inform environmental policies that affect the health of communities and populations, especially vulnerable, low income and minority populations.

The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Research, examined the effects of a weeklong, all-organic diet on four families, measuring the pesticide levels in their urine before and after the intervention.

The pesticides detected in participants before switching to an organic diet are associated with cancers, autism, learning disabilities, infertility and more.

“Pesticides are poisons. And they’re designed to be poisons,” she says. “We are detecting more and more pesticides on the food grown in the United States. If we were to test every American family, you would find pesticides. Small exposures do matter.”

Watch the video here:

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Devon C. Payne-Sturges