[X] CLOSEMAIN MENU

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • air pollution (8)
    • Announcements (604)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (41)
    • Antimicrobial (18)
    • Aquaculture (30)
    • Aquatic Organisms (37)
    • Bats (7)
    • Beneficials (52)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (34)
    • Biomonitoring (40)
    • Birds (26)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (2)
    • Cannabis (30)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (9)
    • Chemical Mixtures (7)
    • Children (113)
    • Children/Schools (240)
    • cicadas (1)
    • Climate (30)
    • Climate Change (86)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (6)
    • Congress (20)
    • contamination (155)
    • deethylatrazine (1)
    • diamides (1)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (19)
    • Drift (16)
    • Drinking Water (16)
    • Ecosystem Services (15)
    • Emergency Exemption (3)
    • Environmental Justice (167)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (534)
    • Events (89)
    • Farm Bill (24)
    • Farmworkers (197)
    • Forestry (5)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungal Resistance (6)
    • Fungicides (26)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (15)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Groundwater (16)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (43)
    • Holidays (39)
    • Household Use (9)
    • Indigenous People (6)
    • Indoor Air Quality (6)
    • Infectious Disease (4)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (71)
    • Invasive Species (35)
    • Label Claims (49)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (250)
    • Litigation (344)
    • Livestock (9)
    • men’s health (3)
    • metabolic syndrome (3)
    • Metabolites (4)
    • Microbiata (22)
    • Microbiome (28)
    • molluscicide (1)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (388)
    • Native Americans (3)
    • Occupational Health (15)
    • Oceans (11)
    • Office of Inspector General (4)
    • perennial crops (1)
    • Pesticide Drift (163)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (10)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (13)
    • Pesticide Regulation (782)
    • Pesticide Residues (185)
    • Pets (36)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (2)
    • Plastic (8)
    • Poisoning (20)
    • Preemption (45)
    • President-elect Transition (2)
    • Reflection (1)
    • Repellent (4)
    • Resistance (119)
    • Rights-of-Way (1)
    • Rodenticide (33)
    • Seasonal (3)
    • Seeds (6)
    • soil health (17)
    • Superfund (5)
    • synergistic effects (23)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (16)
    • Synthetic Turf (3)
    • Take Action (596)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (12)
    • U.S. Supreme Court (1)
    • Volatile Organic Compounds (1)
    • Women’s Health (25)
    • Wood Preservatives (36)
    • World Health Organization (11)
    • Year in Review (2)
  • Most Viewed Posts

Daily News Blog

21
Nov

Plant-Based Diets: Beneficial for the Environment But Potentially High in Pesticides?

A plant-based bowl of rice, chickpeas, and vegetables

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2023) According to a study in the Scientific Reports Journal, plant-forward diets might increase exposure to pesticide residues compared to meat-heavy diets. However, a switch to organic plant-based options significantly reduces this risk, with a separate research study indicating that vegetarians and vegans—often favoring organic products—are generally less exposed to synthetic pesticides than omnivores. The study also corroborates other research emphasizing the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, advocating for policies that make organic plant-based foods more widely accessible and emphasizing their crucial role in enhancing both environmental and human health.  

Plant-based diets are increasingly popular—and with good reason. The intensification of animal agriculture is a major cause of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and high water usage. In particular, Brazil accounts for one-third of global tropical deforestation, with 80% of this deforestation in the Amazon due to cattle ranching. Additionally, animal products like fish, eggs, and meat, responsible for about 83% of land use, supply only 37% of the global protein. Numerous studies suggest that reducing meat and animal product consumption can significantly mitigate environmental impacts, particularly regarding land use and greenhouse gas emissions. However, managed grazing in organic animal agriculture reduces many of the hazards associated with conventional management. This is especially relevant as the modern Western diet, heavy in animal products, is energy inefficient, especially in intensive production settings, where energy loss is prevalent throughout the food chain.  

However, the study finds that in spite of all the environmental benefits, a plant-based diet that is nutritionally equivalent to a conventional omnivore diet may increase the risk of pesticide residue exposure. The study finds that a plant-based diet leads to an increase in consumption of dried fruit, legumes, soy, whole grains, vegetables, and oil, which–while nutritionally adequate–corresponds with an increase in pesticide residue exposure since fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cereals exhibit the highest levels of pesticide residues.  

Using a sample of adults recruited on a voluntary basis from the general population, researchers collected this data using self-administered questionnaires during a time period of June 2014 to December 2014. The questionnaire included 264 food and beverage items in which participants reported the frequency of their consumption of conventionally and organically sourced products, with options ranging from “never” to “always.” The study employs stepwise optimization models to determine the maximum feasible plant food content within nutritional constraints. This involves calculating the energy intake from plant and animal sources, using validated recipes developed by dieticians, which accounts for the nature of the ingredients. 

Researchers also consider demographic factors such as age, education, and smoking status to ensure a thorough understanding of dietary habits and their implications. To assess the environmental impact of food production, the study analyzed data for 92 raw agricultural products. The study also included the development of a food contamination database sourced from the Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) in Stuttgart, which contains extensive data on pesticide residue levels in Europe from 2012 to 2015. It focuses on plant-based foods, both organic and conventional, excluding animal-origin foods. The database breaks down the plant-based food items into 442 ingredients, calculating mean contamination levels for various pesticides, including organophosphates and pyrethroids, as well as substances allowed in organic farming, like natural Pyrethrins and Spinosad. The study developed a synthetic indicator to evaluate exposure, weighted against the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). Additionally, the study accounts for the different nutritional requirements of men and women and evaluates the environmental impact of lacto-vegetarian diets, including the consumption of milk and the rearing of beef cattle. 

The study’s model on pesticide residue exposure indicates that increasing plant-based food consumption generally raises pesticide exposure. Overall, in all scenarios where plant consumption rises, exposure to pesticide residues increases. However, diets rich in organic plant-based foods show a significant reduction in synthetic pesticide exposure. An exception is Spinosad—a natural pesticide permitted in organic farming—which results in an increased exposure in organic diets. Despite this, pesticide exposure levels in organic diets remain much lower compared to conventional ones. Plant-based diets with conventionally-grown food consumption showed overall pesticide exposures six times higher than those with organically-grown food consumption. In all cases, specific pesticide exposures were lower with organic farming. 

Researchers note that despite the potential concerns about pesticide exposure in plant-based diets, the study also reveals a notable environmental benefit: a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Regardless of the agricultural methods used, adopting a plant-based diet led to a 65% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the environmental advantages of plant-based dietary choices. 

In addition to the significant environmental benefits of plant-forward diets, a 2021 study in the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal highlights that vegetarians and vegans have lower exposure to synthetic pesticides compared to omnivores, with vegans experiencing the least exposure. This study finds that these groups are more inclined to choose organic produce, illustrating the dual benefits of plant-based diets for both the environment and human health. Recognizing the advantages of organic plant-based diets, the study calls for improved policies to enhance the accessibility of organic and synthetic-pesticide-free foods.  

Here at Beyond Pesticides, we are dedicated to making information about organic options widely available. We encourage those interested in incorporating more organic foods into their diet to visit our Eating with a Conscience webpage, which offers comprehensive information and practical steps for adopting a healthier lifestyle through organic choices. 

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides. 

Source: Environmental Pressures and Pesticide Exposure; Estimated Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues  

Share

Leave a Reply

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • air pollution (8)
    • Announcements (604)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (41)
    • Antimicrobial (18)
    • Aquaculture (30)
    • Aquatic Organisms (37)
    • Bats (7)
    • Beneficials (52)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (34)
    • Biomonitoring (40)
    • Birds (26)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (2)
    • Cannabis (30)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (9)
    • Chemical Mixtures (7)
    • Children (113)
    • Children/Schools (240)
    • cicadas (1)
    • Climate (30)
    • Climate Change (86)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (6)
    • Congress (20)
    • contamination (155)
    • deethylatrazine (1)
    • diamides (1)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (19)
    • Drift (16)
    • Drinking Water (16)
    • Ecosystem Services (15)
    • Emergency Exemption (3)
    • Environmental Justice (167)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (534)
    • Events (89)
    • Farm Bill (24)
    • Farmworkers (197)
    • Forestry (5)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungal Resistance (6)
    • Fungicides (26)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (15)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Groundwater (16)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (43)
    • Holidays (39)
    • Household Use (9)
    • Indigenous People (6)
    • Indoor Air Quality (6)
    • Infectious Disease (4)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (71)
    • Invasive Species (35)
    • Label Claims (49)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (250)
    • Litigation (344)
    • Livestock (9)
    • men’s health (3)
    • metabolic syndrome (3)
    • Metabolites (4)
    • Microbiata (22)
    • Microbiome (28)
    • molluscicide (1)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (388)
    • Native Americans (3)
    • Occupational Health (15)
    • Oceans (11)
    • Office of Inspector General (4)
    • perennial crops (1)
    • Pesticide Drift (163)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (10)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (13)
    • Pesticide Regulation (782)
    • Pesticide Residues (185)
    • Pets (36)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (2)
    • Plastic (8)
    • Poisoning (20)
    • Preemption (45)
    • President-elect Transition (2)
    • Reflection (1)
    • Repellent (4)
    • Resistance (119)
    • Rights-of-Way (1)
    • Rodenticide (33)
    • Seasonal (3)
    • Seeds (6)
    • soil health (17)
    • Superfund (5)
    • synergistic effects (23)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (16)
    • Synthetic Turf (3)
    • Take Action (596)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (12)
    • U.S. Supreme Court (1)
    • Volatile Organic Compounds (1)
    • Women’s Health (25)
    • Wood Preservatives (36)
    • World Health Organization (11)
    • Year in Review (2)
  • Most Viewed Posts