A study by Consumer Reports (March 1999) showed that current pesticide levels in some fruits and vegetables exceed the U/S. government safety recommendations.
That doesn't mean that you should avoid fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans because available data show that people who eat the most produce, which is the highest source of insecticides, are the ones least likely to suffer cancers and heart attacks. One-of-the most-respected cancer researchers, Bruce Ames, professor at the University of California, Berkeley claims that pesticides prevent cancer.
Almost all the pesticides that we eat were placed in fruits and vegetables by nature, not man. Fewer than one percent of the pesticides are made by man in chemical factories. Most people who complain about man-made pesticides do not understand that most insecticides are copies of those found naturally in plants. When man-made pesticides are given for a very long time to animals, 50 percent develop cancer. When similar doses of natural plant-made pesticides are given to animals, 50 percent also develop cancer. Even with the help of pesticides to preserve our crops, only nine percent of Americans eat the recommended minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. According to Dr. Bruce Ames, this lack of phytochemicals in produce accounts for at least a third of the cancers in industrialized nations. Life have been on earth for 3.5 billion years, and a huge percentage of the plants that have been on earth have become extinct because insects, bacteria, viruses, fungi, man and animals have destroyed them. The minuscule number of plants that have survived contain insecticides to protect them from being destroyed.
Insects multiply so fast and have such voracious appetites that they would destroy every food crop known to man if it were not for the natural insecticides produced by plants and the manufactured insecticides produced by man. Since people are concerned about the use of insecticides manufactured by man, researchers have developed almost exact copies of insecticides made by plants. For example, chrysanthemums produce pyrethrins that protect them from many insects. Manufacturers make copies of plant pyrethrins that have never been shown to be more toxic than those from the plant. Since some concerned groups oppose man-made copies of plant insecticides, scientists have gone one step further. They have taught plants how to make their own new insecticides. For example, a bacterium called bacillus thuringiensis makes an insecticide that kills the Colorado potato beetle that devastates potato crops. Scientists have genetically engineered potatoes to make exactly the same chemical that is made by the bacteria. So Colorado potato beetles die when they eat these potatoes. Man-made insecticides that are copies of plant-made insecticides have not been shown to be more toxic than plant-made insecticides, and plants that are genetically engineered to make large amounts of insecticides have not been shown to be either safer or more toxic than regular plants.
The Consumer Reports study showed that processed foods have less pesticides than fresh ones, but research shows that people who eat the most fresh produce have the least cancers and heart attacks. DDT that was banned 20 year ago is still found in our food supply because it does not break down and remains in the soil for years. Domestic produce has more insecticides than foreign ones, in spite of the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture has set legal limits and the foreign countries have not. Many foreign farmers cannot afford the insecticides, so they don't use them. Methyl parathion, a potent nerve poison, is still found in produce, particularly green beans, even though far safer insecticides are available.
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