Pesticides in Baby Food
July 1, 1995

Pesticides in Baby Food: Foreward

The average baby eats hundreds of those little jars of baby food in his or her first year of life. Guess how many pesticides they eat in that yummy mush?

Not enough, apparently, to suit many members of Congress and the pesticide and food companies that back them.

But laboratory tests that we commissioned found sixteen pesticides in just 8 brand-name baby foods made by the three companies that dominate the market. We found pesticides in half the samples we took, and in 7 of the 8 foods.

These are pesticides designed to kill bugs or fungus. Pesticides that cause cancer, mutations, nervous system disorders, or hormonal disruptions in laboratory studies.

And like all pesticides, the ones we found have never been tested for safety in the way that babies are exposed to them. Even so, the levels of pesticides we found in baby food are actually allowed by the Federal government.

Our tests show that infants are eating mixtures of many different pesticides in baby foods. Some babies get another dose of pesticides from drinking water, or from bug sprays and weed killers used around the home. The toxic load adds up. And growing infants are far more sensitive than adults.

That's why a panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences reported in 1993 that current pesticide standards are out of date. They allow too much pesticide in food, too little protection for infants. That's not good enough for anyone's baby.

Yet, unbelievably, Congress is responding to special interest pleadings to dramatically weaken pesticide standards. Several bills moving through Congress would allow many more--and more toxic--pesticides in all foods, including baby food. A rider to EPA's appropriations bill will actually prohibit EPA from removing a number of carcinogenic pesticides from the market.

That's good news for pesticide companies. But bad news for the rest of us--straight from the mouths of babes.

Kenneth A. Cook


Environmental Working Group