Dr. Carl Winter: “The potential consumer risks from exposure to the most frequently detected pesticides on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of foods are negligible and cast doubts as to how consumers avoiding conventional forms of such produce items are improving their health status.”
Do you feel guilty eating pesticide-sprayed strawberries?
Outreach programs like the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen List,” have convinced many people that unless they’re buying organic, they’re poisoning themselves and their children and causing cancer. After all, if there’s an organic program, it must be because synthetic pesticides are unhealthy and we need a better alternative, right?
But here’s the thing: most toxicologists and other food safety experts look at the science investigating this topic and conclude that there’s no health advantage to be had from organic.
In this episode of the Renaissance Humans Podcast I talk to Dr. Carl Winters, Ph. D., of the University of California at Davis. He’s the Director of the FoodSafe Program and Extension Food Toxicologist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, and has spent much of his career investigating the effects that pesticide residues have on us, and what the health tradeoffs might be if you choose organic over conventional.
In this conversation we talk about:
- The problems with the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen list”
- Whether the European Union’s food safety standards are better than those in the United States
- What Dr. Winter thinks of studies showing downsides to eating conventionally-sprayed produce
- Where he thinks the greatest pesticide is, and where we should be putting our research dollars.
If you’re not interested in the whole interview, you can skip around to the specific topics you’d care to hear about with the show notes list below.
Subscribe and download the podcast episode on Itunes here.
Selected Links From The Episode
Support Renaissance Humans.
Dr. Winter’s paper challenging the methodology of the Dirty Dozen list.
Dr. Winter’s website.
3:43 – Is toxicology a field where a scientist’s work can lead to real-world health improvements?
5:22 – The disproportionate amount of fear surrounding conventionally-sprayed produce vs other high priority food threats.
9:45 – Do most toxicologists have great concerns over the presence of pesticide residue on fruits and veggies.
10:56 – The upsides and downsides of conventional and organic produce
15:20 – The validity of the dirty dozen list
19:08 – We hear bad things about conventional produce and the pesticides on them on a regular basis. What criteria should we use to determine if we should really be concerned about our risk?
23:18 – Is it probable or possible that the necessary science hasn’t been done to detect the harm that pesticides and conventionally-sprayed produce is doing to us?
25:37 – Has our food supply become more dangerous or safer over the last generation or two?
27:36 – Is the amount of pesticide residue consumers are exposed to declining over time?
28:46 – Do organophosphates or any other pesticides need to be further investigated?
32:19 – Food safety standards in the European Union vs The United States
34:51 – Home exposure to toxins that may be worse than what you get from food.
37:50 – The surprisingly high toxicity of organic-approved pesticides.
41:20 – What to make of higher disease risks among farm workers in high spray areas.
44:58 – Where Dr. Winter would put his research dollars to improve health regarding pesticides?