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    Pesticide Residues On Organic: What Do We Know?
    By Steve Savage | December 6th 2012 11:41 PM | 27 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Steve

    Trained as a plant pathologist (Ph.D. UC Davis 1982), I've worked now for >30 years in many aspects of agricultural technology (Colorado State...

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    Are there really less pesticide residues on organic crops?  The answer might not be as simple as you think.

    A few weeks ago it was announced that for the first time in the history of USDA-Organic, there will be mandatory pesticide residue testing starting in 2013.  This was always a theoretical possibility, but a government audit of certifiers showed that it essentially never happened.  

    Now it will, at least to some extent (something like 5% of operations).

    I wrote to the contact person at USDA to ask this question: 

    "will this new testing program look for any residues of the pesticides that are allowed on organic crop and thus applied frequently?"

    Why Ask This Question?

    Most consumers believe (erroneously) that organic crops are not sprayed with any pesticides at all.  That is not true, and the criterion for what can be sprayed on organic has nothing to do with relative risk - it is simply based on whether the pesticide is deemed "natural."  

    Knowing what is actually sprayed on organic crops, I was particularly interested in the copper-based fungicides because they are rather toxic by modern standards, and about Bt, protein insecticides because it would be helpful to calm people freaked out about Bt-biotech crops to be able to compare the exposure to this ultra-safe material when they probably consume farm more that is sprayed on crops vs when it is expressed by the crop.

    Unfortunately, I learned that this new testing program is only there to encourage compliance with the organic rules, not to document anything about relative residue levels.  There will be no testing for organically approved pesticides.  In fact there won't be any public data-base generated and the sampling will be at the discretion of certifiers - not random.

    This leaves us with the same situation we have had for a long time.  Organic advocates and marketers make regular claims about the advantage of organic with regard to pesticide residues, and yet there is no actual data to support that claim - at least not for the US.  

    But Didn't That Stanford Study Compare Residues?

    Remember the recent "Stanford Meta-Study" comparing organic and conventional that stirred so much controversy?  They found lots of studies about nutrient content, but in their extensive search of the scientific literature they were only able to find 9 studies that compared pesticide residues in organic and conventional.  

    Only one of those was even from the US and it was from the mid 1990s.  It was based on a testing program at USDA called the PDP (Pesticide Detection Program).  While that group does an excellent job of monitoring pesticide residues on conventional crops, it has never looked for the pesticides most likely to be found as residues on organic - things like copper salts.  

    So even that one study that the Stanford group cited for the US was not a meaningful piece of data for residue comparison.  So much for the scientific literature as a source on this question.

    Why Doesn't the PDP Test For Copper, Bt, Biologicals Etc?

    I contacted the USDA scientists who run the PDP to ask why they don't test for things like Copper fungicides, Bts or other biologicals.  The answer was quite practical.  They use something called multi-residues methods (MRMs) with which it is possible to simultaneously test for 2-300 different synthetic pesticides in a single analysis run.  However, because of solubility issues and detection technology differences, many organic-approved pesticides cannot be extracted or measured by the same protocol.  

    To do the testing for these individual categories of pesticides would be far too expensive for the budget of that agency.  The random sampling method of PDP is also not well suited to getting enough organic samples for comparison.

    Can We Compare Residues?  No.

    So, here is where we stand on the question of pesticide residues on food.  The conventional supply is rigorously tested for the main products they intentionally apply as well as for any off-label or environmentally persistent products left over from the bad old days.  We get a data set every year which essentially says that there isn't anything to keep consumers from confidently buying that food.  

    The organic food supply is going to be tested to some degree for the first time, but we won't see any real summary of that data nor will we be able to compare it to conventional.  We also know that there won't be any data generated about the pesticide residues most likely to be present on organic.

    Do We Know Anything About Pesticide Residues On Organic Crops?

    There was a relatively small, but high quality pilot study conducted by the USDA as background for their new testing regime.  The authors were careful to point out the multiple reasons that their data is not really comparable to PDP (limited number of crops, smaller sample size not collected in the same fashion, fewer chemical tests conducted...).  What they did find was that there were definitely some synthetic pesticide residues detected on organic crops - mostly consistent with spray drift, accidental contact in packing houses, persistent environmental pollutants....  

    The levels they found were not problematic from a safety point of view, but that is just as true for the PDP testing of conventional crops.  This pilot program was like the PDP in that it used MRMs and so it didn't test for the majority of organic pesticides.  

    So, bottom line, we still have no real data about the most likely pesticide residues that occur on organic crops and we are unlikely to get any.

    What Would Happen If We Could Get Information About Organic Residue Status?

    If organic were subjected to the same level of random and comprehensive testing that is used for conventional, and if all its pesticides were included, it would almost certainly come out "dirty" by the absurd and irresponsible methodology employed by the Environmental Working Group to create its annual "dirty dozen list".  They just count detections without regard to the nature of the chemical in question or its concentration or its EPA tolerance.  

    If there ever were a comparable pesticide residue database for organic it would force a far more scientific discussion of which residues matter and which do not.  My guess is that both conventional and organic would come out as just fine for consumers to eat, but the "organic advantage" would disappear when both types of food had to be compared using scientifically sound assessments.

    Bottom line.  Just eat your fruits and vegetables and whole grains.... enjoy them!

    You are welcome to comment here, and/or to write me at savage.sd@gmail.com

    Organic produce image from Pculter's Photostream


    Gerhard Adam

    Not to pick on you, but ....

    Why is it that scientists have to wait for government action before they can do testing and publish results?  Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what you're trying to say, but there shouldn't be any reason why science can't obtain the necessary data.

    What am I missing?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard,What is missing is money.  To do a comprehensive sampling of the real food supply and then conduct the tests in the lab is a very expensive undertaking.   That is why the multiple chemical test is so attractive.

    Now, before any new pesticide is registered, the company has to do all sorts of residue testing from field trials and that is expensive; however, they are just looking for the one chemical or it and key metabolites. 

    The purpose of the USDA PDP testing program is essentially to see whether the regulations around pesticide use and the applicator on-going education is working in terms of keeping residues at very low risk levels as intended.  The program shows that the system is working, but because there isn't a comparable testing of what is sprayed on organic, the EWG gets by with claiming that the residues are something bad.  Unfortunately, the press just passes that along uncritically 
    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    I understand that comprehensive testing of the food supply would be too expensive for scientific inquiry.  However, that's more in the policy arena than science.

    So, if the point is simply to demonstrate that organic foods have higher than reported [or assumed] pesticide residue levels then it seems like a bit of random testing, could certainly raise the issue without being prohibitively expensive.  If this isn't necessary and the data/results are already known then it's clearly not a scientific issue but a political one.

    That's what I'm trying to understand.  If the data is currently not available or known, then it seems that even a small sample testing would be enough to allow publishing of results to potentially draw attention and increase the pressure for something more comprehensive.

    I guess I'm not understanding how we can have studies ad nauseum demonstrating that second-hand, third-hand, fourth-hand, even thinking about smoking is unhealthy, but we don't have the money or means to test a segment of the food supply?

    Hank was quite flip in the GM food discussion to tell people that they could readily buy GM foods and do their own animal studies and publish results if they didn't agree with the current science, so in one sense, I'm wondering why scientists can't do small-scale testing if there's something that needs to be determined [as I said, I'm assuming that this is a relatively unknown area, whereas if the data is already known then no additional research is needed].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Organic is a bit of a sacred cow.  There are not many scientists in the public sector who would like to be the ones to demonstrate that organic isn't what people think it is and that it is dependent on a not so nice category of pesticides.  I've spoken with dozens of practical researchers over the years and asked them what they think about the high use of copper-based fungicides in organic.  They all think it is a less than desirable thing, both because they don't really work that well, and because there are so much more efficacious and low risk options available.  But none of these folks have the incentive to come out with something that would be considered "anti-organic."  There is a real and useful role for copper products and they are adequately regulated by the EPA like all pesticides.  It is just that for non-organic growers, there are far better options for most disease challenges.  If we had public data on these residues on organic it shouldn't be used to scare people - it would just be nice to level the PR field.

    Steve Savage
    Gerhard Adam
    I can appreciate that, and I don't mean to sound antagonistic, but it seems that this isn't really about science then.  Whatever the motivation, this sounds purely political.  I'm not faulting scientists for making such choices, but then we can't really pretend that it's about knowledge, can we?

    As I said, I'm really not trying to indict scientists regarding such topics, and even though I probably sound harsh, I find such a position to be a serious compromise that weakens scientific arguments about objectivity.

    It is what it is, but it's disappointing. 

    BTW, I'm not naive, nor do I expect idealistic behaviors.  Yet, I can't help but wonder that if scientists aren't willing to climb out on the limb and tackle unpopular topics ... who will?
    Mundus vult decipi
    I guess I'm not understanding how we can have studies ad nauseum demonstrating that second-hand, third-hand, fourth-hand, even thinking about smoking is unhealthy, but we don't have the money or means to test a segment of the food supply?
    You should indeed be skeptical about the money argument. Aside from the possibility of easily using all the sensitive instrumentation that already exists in chemistry departments, there are even inexpensive sensitive strip tests out there for pesticides.  

    In case I'm missing something, I just emailed the chemist who developed these strips for his take on the matter.
    "...but it seems that this isn't really about science then."

    Scientists are people too, with all sorts of motivations and agenda's. Good ones don't let that affect their work, but others...

    Take the Environmental Working Group for example. The EWG misrepresents the USDA PDP data and constructs a bogus statistical analysis to support their agenda, but which is meaningless in terms of characterizing risk. Yet every year when the EWG publishes their Dirty Dozen List, it is recirculated by lazy journalists who ought to be more skeptical.

    If you want to know what pesticides you will find on organic produce, just check out the OMRI list of approved organic pesticides. Most of the pesticides in those lists are actually used by organic growers and will be found on organic produce somewhere, sometime. Just because pesticides are approved for use on organic produce does not mean they disappear before they are consumed. The USDA is letting us all down by not doing more testing of organic produce.

    A "natural" poison is still a poison. The point that needs to be made is that all registered pesticides, synthetic or natural, can be used safely and without harm to the consumer.

    Gerhard Adam
    I get the "scientists are people" argument, but it tends to undermine their credibility and works towards suggesting that they aren't to be trusted, especially in cases where public policy or agendas are involved.

    This is precisely why much of the public is becoming increasingly skeptical of results that are supposed to be conclusive regarding all manner of things that are part of public policy, whether it be climate change or GM foods.

    If scientists aren't prepared to answer the hard questions, even when the results may skewer a sacred cow, then how can I expect them to resist the pressures of larger economic or political forces?

    Yes, they are just people, but as with many people in our society, they hold a position from which we expect better of them.  Just as we do from doctors or police officers, we give them special "authority" or, at least, trust because we expect their behavior to be reflected by their trusted position, and not simply that they're "just people" too.  I have no use for a police officer that is "just another person" with a gun.

    I also recognize that some of this sounds more idealistic and that things aren't ever going to be perfect, but then scientists should also recognize that their profession is being compromised by these acts.  At that point is no longer reasonable to claim that there is a "scientific consensus", because we actually don't know what that means.  If the majority of scientists don't want to test organic foods because it's a "sacred cow", does that make it a scientific consensus? 

    The original point that I raised, is that I don't like the seemingly mixed response that perpetually seeks to invoke the government and its controls while simultaneously denying that the government is competent to do anything.  That is purely political, and I expect that scientists should be capable of conducting their research and gathering important information whether or not the government has a program in place.

    If it is about money, then we've simply demonstrated that science has crossed a threshold to where it can no longer be completely trusted, because it has become dependent on the "hand that feeds it", so should be viewed more skeptically.  As I said, it is what it is, but let's not pretend that science is necessarily being conducted by some selfless individuals, tucked away in a lab, spending all their time trying to get at the "truth".  If their primary focus is to foster careers and advance themselves, then they have an agenda, regardless of how much they believe that they are being objective.

    I don't believe that the majority of people are dishonest, nor do I believe that they are unethical.  However, I'm also not naive enough to believe that people cannot be dishonest or unethical, and everyone knows that money promotes strange bedfellows.  So, it's good to know if scientists are also in that category.
    Mundus vult decipi
    If scientists aren't prepared to answer the hard questions, even when the results may skewer a sacred cow, then how can I expect them to resist the pressures of larger economic or political forces?

    The problem with the sacred cow that is organic is that those who worship it have a few screws loose and can react to any negative report in visceral and crazy ways. Why would any scientist want to risk the wrath of these clowns? Look at what happened in the recent Dr. Oz case. They ate one of their own for having the temerity to simply say conventional foods were okay. Why would a scientist risk getting emailed bombed, or having thousands of emails flooding his employer's email box demanding he be fired? People report getting death threats.

    Look up what happened to the Sacramento Bee. They wrote an editorial about the quackiness of Mercola and they had to shut down the comment board and were email bombed. The editor wrote that never before had they had such a response on an issue. The Organic Consumers Association put a picture of the editorial writer on their website and branded him a “minion of Monsanto.”

    Who would want to be distracted by such nonsense?

    Gerhard Adam
    Look at what happened in the recent Dr. Oz case.

    Look up what happened to the Sacramento Bee.
    Your points are only relevant if these scientists had their own television show, in which case, such responses go with the territory.  If you're suggesting that when a scientist publishes a paper that their work draws enough attention to garner such a public response, then I think you're being exceedingly optimistic.

    Moreover, it is apparent that many scientists have no problem raising controversial issues and certainly engaging in a social hot-button topic; religion.  So, I also don't accept the notion that somehow organic foods is too "hot" a topic to pursue.
    The Organic Consumers Association put a picture of the editorial writer on their website and branded him a “minion of Monsanto.”
    So what?
    Who would want to be distracted by such nonsense?
    As I've said before, if someone isn't willing to address the difficult questions, then perhaps they're in the wrong line of work. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhart,The Stanford scientists who published the meta-study that failed to support a nutrition advantage for organic got a great deal of grief and personal attacks.  So did those whose meta-study showed that organic crop yields were low.
    Steve Savage
    You don't have to have a TV show and it is relevant. There has been not only vandalism of test crops but threats against scientists. In Australia researchers are starting to take safety measures to protect themselves because of threats.

    Ask Kevin Folta about threats. He says he's received a few of them.

    Gerhard Adam
    So that's it then?  We'll just consider studying organic foods as being off-limits? 
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Scientists" self-proclaimed or otherwise, don't pass some sort of test that ensures they will speak only the truth. There is no substitute for critical thinking in sorting out the good ones from the bad. Unfortunately, one actually has to know something about science and the subject involved to do that, and there is the rub. The people who most would like to trust to translate data, government and the popular media, do an incredibly poor job of it. Most of the time, bias is revealed when one reviews original research reports or data. Fewer and fewer people are literate in any kind of science. No surprise that has led to so much unchallenged manipulation and misinformation related to this subject.

    Gerhard Adam
    Fewer and fewer people are literate in any kind of science. No surprise that has led to so much unchallenged manipulation and misinformation related to this subject.
    True enough, but let's not overlook the fact that many of these people are also reading articles and quoting sources from those very same scientists.  It's become a kind of performance where you can't know the players without a program.  Someone shouldn't have to know the history and record of individuals, like Seralini or Wakefield.

    Despite this, we get articles that want to minimize these problems in science by arguing that only 2000+ papers have been withdrawn in the past 70 years, so that demonstrates that peer-review and science isn't broken.

    All one has to ask is whether Seralini's or Wakefield's papers were also withdrawn (1) to know the answer to that question.  So it's a bit unfair to criticize the public as being scientifically illiterate and anti-science, when they are doing their research and quoting those same papers and scientists that the scientific community has failed to sanction.  After all, it's not like these individuals are publishing their own newsletters.  They are supposedly peer-reviewed which means that either other scientists agreed with their work, or neglected their role in reviewing the material.  Which is it?

    Then we hear how some publications aren't very stringent in their review process or that some that claim review don't do a very good job.  What kind of nonsense is that?  How is the public supposed to recognize the soap opera that represents scientific publication?

    This is precisely what has happened to journalists when the public recognized that they were no longer reporting news, but injecting their own political biases or even making stories up.  Scientists are headed down the same path, so unless they want to end up in the same position, it's time they began to take their public role seriously and stop blaming everyone else for the nonsense that often passes for research.

    (1) Wakefield's 1998 paper was finally withdrawn 14 years after the fact.
    Mundus vult decipi
    We mostly agree, but peer review is hardly a guarantee that the conclusions reached in a published paper are true. Peer review is not a stamp of approval and there are plenty of bloggers out there who have described the weaknesses of the system. Whenever I run across a news story based on research done on a subject that is important to me, the first thing I do is review the original research report along with the bio of the researcher. It's amazing how many times I find that reporters have misrepresent the facts or the researcher has introduced their own bias regardless of the peer review process.

    There are some good skeptic's blogs around that help sort out truth from fiction on many popular issues, but unfortunately, they are mostly preaching to the choir. Those who have the greatest need for a healthy dose of skepticism or objectivity are often the people least inclined to seek it.

    Frankly, I don't think that scientists are heading down the same path as journalists, I think they have always been about where they are now. What has changed is that modern media has given pseudo scientists a far more powerful voice than they used to have. For instance, there was a time when the anti-vaccine crowd would have been laughed off the stage and their "research" would have never seen the light of day. Now they have celebrities and prominent congressmen pleading their ignorant cause. It's not scientists' fault if so many would rather believe the likes of Jenny McCarty, Oprah, Dr. Oz, Depak Chopra, etc. rather than figure out how to tell junk science from the real thing on their own. It's easy to take advantage of people like that, and journalists, politicians and purveyors of junk science are all too willing to do just that.

    Gerhard Adam
    True enough, but let's also recognize that often the research is not unambiguous.  Many people, both pro and con, will often take studies and extend their significance far beyond what the original researchers actually claimed.

    I'm not even that concerned about whether a particular research topic is sloppy, or incomplete, I'm more disturbed by the fact that much of the research doesn't seem to bother with trying to replicate previous studies, unless it's a big ticket item that draws a lot of media attention.

    In addition, many of the topics are dependent on "framing" and create an environment of where it becomes difficult if not impossible to ask actual scientific questions.  For instance, if anyone truly had questions regarding vaccines, the anti-vaccine crowd would be inappropriately supportive, and the others would be unnecessarily defensive, regardless of whether the question had merit or not.

    As an example, regarding vaccines.  It is clear that there are no mercury related issues, just as there are no direct problems that would link vaccines to autism based on current evidence or studies.  Yet, I find myself becoming increasingly concerned about the increased vaccine load being placed on children at younger and younger ages [not autism related].  Specifically my concern is that we are doing much of this while the child's immune system is still being developed, and my specific concern is what the impact of this might be on the microbiota.

    Is it a problem?  Who knows, since I'm not aware of any studies that have ever examined the issue.  What drew my attention to it, was simply an increased level of awareness in how the microbiota helps "train" the immune system, so it makes me wonder what the effects may be if we begin to load up on these vaccines at too early an age.  I'm sure some people will immediately scoff at my comments, while others may rush in to defend them.  Neither is my intent, it's simply a question, with no suppositions one way or the other.

    In my view, it is a perfectly legitimate question to wonder why we are immunizing extremely young children from diseases that could easily wait several more months while their immune system matures [certainly in the developed nations].

    But, if anyone else comments, I'll willingly bet that someone will hijack that comment to support the "vaccines cause autism" view, or someone else will comment about how my question is "anti-science".  Take your pick, but my bet is that no one will offer an actual answer.

    Mundus vult decipi
    "Many people, both pro and con, will often take studies and extend their significance far beyond what the original researchers actually claimed."

    Interesting that the link you provided illustrates that exact point. Nowhere in "Cohort study of sibling effect, infectious diseases, and risk of atopic dermatitis during first 18 months of life" do the authors mention an association between vaccines and dermatitis. Their data does show a correlation between infections disease before age 6 months, mostly colds, but no reference is made to vaccination history. One has to jump to the conclusion that somehow colds are equivalent to vaccinations in order to state what was written in the article you linked to; "Is vaccination load in infancy similarly associated with allergic diseases?"

    In that article, Dr. Benn suggest that a similar type of study could be used to look at correlations between vaccination and allergic diseases and then herself jumps to the conclusion that "The findings would suggest that its best to defer some vaccines to a time when the immune system is more mature." The BMJ article presents a hypothesis and calls for studies to be done, but presents no data that supports a conclusion that vaccinations cause allergic diseases at any age. Microbial exposure is a different, and very interesting subject.

    For me and my kids, I will stick with the CDC and our pediatrician's guidance. The people I trust and who know more about the subject than I do are confident that current childhood immunization schedules are safe and effective and I have seen no evidence yet that would change my mind.

    When I talk about the anti-vaccine crowd, I am mainly talking about the ignorant parents who send their kids to day care or school without having been immunized because they believe in the anti-vaccine junk science that is in the media. From a public health perspective, that is selfish irresponsible.

    All of this ties back to how science is represented in the popular media and even some reputable journals. Whether or not we are talking about organic produce, pesticides or vaccines, one has to be exceedingly careful not to fall victim to the biases of others or even our own.

    Gerhard Adam
    I agree with your comments, and the link I provided wasn't intended to show anything particular in associating vaccines with allergies, but rather to illustrate the point you raised.  Sorry if I wasn't more clear about it.

    As I said, my interest is in the impact on the microbiota for which very little is known, so that's what draws my attention.  I think that there are too many specific conclusions being suggested for something that is far too nebulous at this stage.

    The reason for raising the vaccine load issue is that I would also like to see studies that reflect why such changes are warranted, since it seems to progressively get more and more aggressive.  Is this science or economics?  It seems that the biggest risk for childhood disease is what it has always been, those that risk exposure in school, etc. so it seems a big unusual that to have such an aggressive vaccine schedule for infants [excepting exposure risks from siblings].

    Again ... just a question.  I'm certainly in no position to suggest that there are correlations to anything, but it is something that is worth looking at.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I owe you a bit of an apology, I had overlooked the fact that what I attributed to Dr. Benn in connecting vaccines to her work was actually a response from a reader, not her. From what I can tell based on his writings, that reader, Dr. Wouter Havinga, appears to be a homeopathic quack. (No apologies tendered to those who believe in homeopathic remedies.)

    Pseudo science creeps undetected into the dialogue yet again. Seems like common sense, why wouldn't we want to make absolutely sure that immunization schedules are truly warranted? The fact is that immunization schedules have been thoroughly vetted and there is no objective evidence to suggest they are harmful to kids.

    To your first point, and the original topic in general, it's not about what scientists are becoming, it's about the fact that the Dr. Havingas of the world are not be recognized for what they really are.

    Gerhard Adam
    The fact is that immunization schedules have been thoroughly vetted and there is no objective evidence to suggest they are harmful to kids.
    Again, let me clarify my particular point.  In my view, these schedules have been "vetted" although I don't know how thoroughly, since they seem to be changing every few years, without any clear indication as to why.  However, that aside, I would argue that it would be more appropriate to say that they have been "vetted" to the best state of our current knowledge.

    This is precisely why I'm asking the question regarding the microbiota, since this is something that is, even now, gradually beginning to introduce all manner of new perspectives.  Even if there is some correlation or linkage, I'm not sure I'd be prepared to classify it as harmful [since clearly that kind of "harm" hasn't occurred].  However, there are potential changes that could occur in the microbiota that aren't harmful, per se, but could be problematic.

    That's simply my curiosity.
    Mundus vult decipi
    John Hasenkam
    I have long worried about the copper fungicide issue.. High copper loading is potentially very dangerous, some years ago an Aus neuroscientist demonstrated high copper loading promoted amyloid aggregation in brains. Heavy metal loading generally is a problem. I'd rather take my chance with pesticide residues than be persistently eating foods with high copper levels. 
    As for the "natural" -  "Us" dichotomy. Blah. I have no doubt I'm absorbing some 100+ artificial chemicals, from the keyboard, the paint, the carpet etc etc . That's modern life I'm, used to it. But if you use something to kill things then until appropriate testing you have to accept the probability said thing is more dangerous than whatever else you are worried about, is potentially a toxin, and should be treated accordingly.  

    To do a comprehensive sampling of the real food supply and then conduct the tests in the lab is a very expensive undertaking.   That is why the multiple chemical test is so attractive.

    Not so sure. This is what a friend of mine who ran a small goods farm told me about testing for his chillies, done by govt laboratories. 

    1 case out of 130 cases of chlllies was sent to the lab. If any unacceptable residues found the entire 130 cases destroyed. 

    I imagine there are similiar testing regimes for other plants. So that would be quite a job for govt laboratories. So I am not sure it is that expensive to do the regular testing. I'd be testing for copper. 
    I don't have any data to say that the copper fungicides are a real health risk. They are quite water soluble and should wash off of things pretty well.  My point is mainly that there is no reason to treat these differently than scores of safer options and things with much less environmental issues.  
    I'm with you, I'd like to see some copper testing of all foods - conventional and organic.  Its sort of gap in our knowledge base about our food
    Steve Savage
    John Hasenkam
    The fact is that immunization schedules have been thoroughly vetted and there is no objective evidence to suggest they are harmful to kids.

    How so vetted? How do we really know when we engage in mass immunisation and so have no control? Not possible. A great many things have been "vetted scientifically" and found wanting. 

    Gerhard, could not find any data re vaccinations and gut flora. The gut flora issue is new so perhaps no-one has gone looking. I think another issue here worth thinking about is the impact of processed foods, food additives, and high carb\sugar loading on gut flora. The recent studies on gut flora have interested me because for years I have been perplexed by the prevalence of inflammatory related chronic conditions and recent findings highlight how some gut flora produce molecules or promote production of molecules like interleukin 10, an anti-inflammatory protein produced by the immune system and is that production is promoted by vitamin D. 

    My concern is with multiple simultaneous vaccinations because this may induce a strong immune response which can lead to reactions against a variety of proteins. What people do not appreciate is that the immune system works incredibly hard, uses up buckets of resources to produces antibodies at astonishing rates. So inducing multiple immune responses simultaneously, while economically prudent, strikes me as a not so prudent immunologically. 


    My point about copper was to highlight the absurdity of thinking that because it is "just" copper we need not worry. Like selenium, an essential micronutrient which in high doses is also toxic. The poison is in the dose, from water to oxygen, the rule holds. 
    John,I agree.  Copper-based products shouldn't get any sort of pass in terms of risk assessment because they are natural or even because we need a certain amount of copper.  We need vitamin D3 and vitamin A and they are both more toxic that the vast majority of pesticides.  Yes, its all about dose.

    I don't want to push for testing of organic that is about load rejection.  I just like what the PDP does which is give the public a window on what is really out there in the food supply via random sampling and transparent summarization.  It is just sad (an practically criminal or at least just plain wrong) that the EWG uses that data to falsely designate crops as "dirty" and even less responsible that most of the press credulously promotes their disinformation. 
    Steve Savage
    Well said Steve. There is so much pressure to create content that bloggers and journalists are far too willing to regurgitate junk science and misrepresented data. A greater and greater proportion of that content is written because it is provocative or advances a political or philosophical agenda, not because it is the truth. EWG is among the worst offenders.

    Chuck. I could not agree more. That is why I wish there was data on residues on organic. It would force them to put some science into their analysis for once