Eating organic for a week cuts pesticide exposure, Aussie study finds

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Eating organic for a week cuts pesticide exposure, Aussie study finds

A world-first study by Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has found eating an organic diet for a week can cut pesticide exposure in adults by 89%.

In a release, lead investigator Dr Liza Oates said a few studies examining how organic diets affected pesticide levels in children had been undertaken in the past, but this was the first to compare organic and conventional food consumption in adults.

"Conventional food production commonly uses organophosphate pesticides, which are neurotoxins that act on the nervous system of insects - and humans - by blocking an important enzyme," Oates said.

"Recent studies have raised concerns for the health effects of these chemicals even at relatively low levels.

"Pesticide exposure in Australian adults is mainly through their diets, but there are other sources of exposure, so we wanted to find out the difference going organic could make."

Australian Organic

The small-scale trial involved 13 randomly selected participants who were assigned to either consume a diet of at least 80% organic or conventional food for seven days, and then swith to the alternate diet for a further week.

Urinary levels of six metabolites of organophosphate pesticides, known as DAPs, were analyzed on the eighth day of each phase.

The results were published in the journal Environmental Research.,

"Our results show that people who switch to eating mainly organic food for just one week can dramatically reduce their exposure to pesticides, demonstrating that an organic diet has a key role to play in a precautionary approach to reducing pesticide exposure," Oates said.

"While the clinical relevance of reducing pesticide exposure requires further studies conducted on a larger scale, this study is an important first step in expanding our understanding about the impact of an organic diet."

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