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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Pesticide Exposure in Food Affects Children’s Intelligence: Study

Food Integrity Campaign | February 27, 2012

A recent study shows that chemical exposure – including that from food products – may cause child IQ reduction that rivals the impacts of major medical conditions. The finding reveals that the effect on society of widespread lead, organophosphate pesticides and methylmercury exposure “may be more severe than what previous studies of individual risk would suggest.”

From Environmental Health News:

Organophosphate pesticides would affect the children by reducing IQ by about 17 million points at the population level.

Together, the three environmental exposures would decrease population-wide children’s IQ by 40 million points. This could be equivalent to a loss of 1.6 IQ point in each of 25.5 million children. The average IQ in a society is 100.

[In comparison] The contribution to societal IQ loss in children by other common problems and disorders, include about 17 million IQ points for ADHD, 7 million points for autism, about 7 million IQ points lost to traumatic brain injuries and 0.1 million IQ points due to birth defects of the heart.

The study buttresses the conclusions of biomedical expert and whistleblower Renee Dufault, who presented at our Washington, DC office last year on the topic of organophosphate (OP) pesticides detected in food and their impact on human brain function.

Dufault, who is the executive director of the Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute (FIHRI), discusses some of the concerns on her new organization website:

Exposure to OP prior to and after birth is associated with the development of autism and ADHD (1-6).

In addition to fruits and vegetables, OP residue has been found in wheat end products such as cereal, bread, and macaroni noodles (9). You can’t wash OP pesticides off of these products of which children are high end consumers.

It’s good that more research on this issue is being brought to light since, as Dufault notes, pesticide residues in food commodities are exempt from labeling requirements and are not even regulated by the FDA.

In her presentation last year, Dufault also brought up the added concern of co-exposure of OP and mercury, which she revealed might appear in foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup. While working at the FDA, she discovered low levels of mercury in HFCS samples, but the agency pressured her to back off the subject. Dufault was forced to quit her job in order to get the word out, which she did with the publication of her findings in two peer-reviewed journals. We took her on as a client to protect her against whistleblower retaliation and help her expose the truth.

If chemicals in the food supply are threatening the health of our nation’s young people, there shouldn’t be any obstacles to distributing such information. FIC continues to support Dufault in her efforts to bring food ingredient safety, education, and research to the public.


Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign.