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Pesticides on Our Plates

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About 20 per cent of our food is contaminated by trace amounts of pesticides, many of which have been banned for decades, a new study says

About 20 per cent of our food is contaminated by trace amounts of pesticides, many of which have been banned for decades, a new study says. Analyzing United States governmental data, the Pesticide Action Network, an environmental group in San Francisco, reported that the average diet provides 60 to 70 daily doses of pollutants including DDT, dieldrin and dioxin.

These toxic chemicals belong to a group called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are among the most dangerous because they linger in the environment and build up in the fatty tissues of animals and humans. DDT and dieldrin have also been banned in North America since the 1970s.

The study, published Oct. 15, 2002 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, listed the top 10 foods contaminated with POPs (in no particular order): peanuts, cucumbers, meat loaf, popcorn, spinach, radishes, cantaloupe, butter, summer and winter squash.

These findings provide another reason to buy certified organic produce, which is produced without pesticides and is less likely to contain contaminants.

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