Pesticide study follow up

A few of you read the study I posted a while back that showed that farmers that are certified sprayers are considerably healthier than their non-agricultural cohorts, proving beyond doubt that a teaspoon of DDT a day keeps the doctor away…well, maybe not quite. But it seems to indicate that the fears of the dangers of pesticide exposure are vastly overstated in the general media and in the minds of the general public.

Also that your money may be better invested than paying premium prices for groceries from Whole Foods- say in a gym membership, or a small farm. I’m just kidding, of course, and I have a lot of respect for those of you who manage to get good yields without poisonous inputs.

At any rate, the original study has now been extended and re-evaluated and the original conclusions have been further enforced. The above is a strange link to a summary of the follow up. I’m sure a few of you will be reluctant to trust a report by something called the GMO school, but the research itself is published in the Annals of Epidemiology and is absolutely legit.


From GMO School: “Study participants are less likely than the general population to die
from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung diseases, and liver diseases.”
So how do they die? Are they dying of the flu or getting shot a lot?

It’s a complicated matter and the studies go on. it is good news that farmers are healthy. But when reading the details there some cancer and diseases that farmers have at a higher rate. They also have identified the importance in proper handling of chemicals in reducing health problems which is logical but is important because it shows that some of the chemicals used are safe when the proper protection is used.

Several friends that farm here died of cancer as did a body shop owner I knew, None of that if put in a study tells you many of them were all exposed to agent orange during the war. My point is you can use those several deaths as research for either agent orange or farming or even body shop work. The reality is nothing is safe 100% and studies try to skew our opinion based on some statistics that might be less than accurate. We see people with agendas try to make us believe no pesticide in safe and others tell us all pesticide is safe. My philosophy is if I would not intentionally ingest it than i’m careful with it and try to handle it properly. I use chemicals sometimes but avoid them as much as I can. Sometimes herbicides , fungicides, and pesticides are our only choice here. I’m thankful we have chemicals to use and I believe some are relatively safe but like a tractor or anything else never underestimate their ability to kill you if you disregard the rules.


I don’t like the aspect of pesticides unpredictably altering the general ecology of where they are in play, but this continuing study is probably the best we can do in determining the effect of their exposure to humans.

I have a client who was raised in a farm community but moved to NY. When someone she knows in the farming business comes down with cancer she attributes it to agricultural chemicals because it confirms her established beliefs. If a friend in NYC gets cancer she probably finds something in the persons diet to explain the sickness.

Clients with these established belies are usually extremely surprised at the results of this study when I show it to them, but I doubt it fractures their pre-existing belief system. However, most of them, even those who purchase mostly organically produced food, allow me to supply synthetic intervention to produce sound fruit.


Very well said Alan and your right before anyone reads this study or any other most are on one side of the fence or the other already. I like your low spray methods you use because you still get produce but use the minimum chemical you can get by with.




Thanks for the heads up, Alan. I am an old natural products chemist and spent many years in research looking for effective, safe alternatives to broad spectrum pesticides. Then I spent many years in remediation work cleaning up toxic messes using phytoremediation methods. Yet two of my grad students work for Monsanto developing GMO crops. Overall, I found that it is the abuse, misuse, and improper disposal of pesticides which is the primary problem. As you caution, we must continue to study these chemicals and pay attention to positive or negative findings. Honestly, though, it is so difficult to accept most studies as credible as the scientists usually have a vested interest or strong bias in the outcome. We all really need to get better educated in biology and chemistry so we can demand better accountability from our official regulators such as the EPA. That would go a long way towards proper use of these powerful chemicals.


What I find astounding is that my supplier is not required to and will not take back pesticides that are beyond their use date. The law should require this and let the distributors make up for the cost by putting it in the price of the pesticides.

Illegal dumping of pesticides is much more likely if there are not easy alternatives. Small farms have small margins.




Like I’ve said before. … Cobra venom is natural and organic too.

1 Like

Actually, it shouldn’t be difficult if you can view the study. This one, in particular, was not paid for by a company pushing a particular product and it is simply based on data that can’t be fabricated unless this large group of scientists are involved in some crazy conspiracy and absolutely trust each other to keep a secret that could destroy their careers.

If somehow we do live in such a crazy world, then the chemical companies who are providing the bribes certainly haven’t done anything in the last decade to draw attention to this study. It just isn’t out there in the media, and far less convincing studies (much less data) that create alarm about pesticides receive tons of publicity.

If a company is trying to get a product past regulation- that is one thing, but it would be very foolish to put all research in one category.

If a large segment of our population arbitrarily dismisses all research that contradicts their own belief system we are likely either heading back to the dark ages or extinction.


Then we are heading for extinction. As that happens all the time. I agree some studies are good, this looks like a good one. Having worked in the field, the truth was never a factor for the people I worked for, and they were not a private company. A state funded University. I know this isn’t the case for a lot of research though. Although I have seen this go on for some time in other studies, the truth is ignored, dismissed or just thrown out. I agree with abqspeachless. Do not trust any study to be the absolute truth. abqspeachless hit the nail on the head, he is right I have no doubt about that.I lived it,saw fake data put in with my own eyes.


You are right, I didn’t choose my words well, I should have said if the dismissal of scientific research by a large segment of our society steers us away from science based decision making it is huge existential threat because we are left with nothing but emotionally based opinions as a compass. Those were the Dark Ages.

1 Like

I think science is already under serious pressure. To me people are getting their information and forming their opinions from the internet. It’s very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff on the internet.


probably not safe to say conclusively we’ve all sorted it out…
unwanted correlations or trends linking new(and even old) pesticides to diseases, syndromes, or ecological damages decades from now are quite likely. The odds are always stacked against pesticides(which may be unfair or biased), but being biological agents, it is something we need to research on. We could still be in the dark ages, per the folks of 100 years onward. Besides, that’s what the folks of the 1900’s regarded the people’s know-how during the 1800’s

and this is now how we regard the physicians ~60 years ago

of course, this is just my take on the subject matter, and i admit, i could be the lone skeptical muslim, among a multitude of christians(or vice-versa)–which could come off as rude. I hope nobody sees it that way…

1 Like

I don’t. You always seem very polite in your posts.

For me, I think pesticides do have risk, but what I think the study points to is that there are other risk factors in everyday living which are substantial enough to make pesticide risk statistically irrelevant to the lifespan and overall health to applicators. I hesitate to use those words because they can be so easily misunderstood.

What I mean is lets say a normal person sits in an office chair all day doing office work. That a risky behavior, I think. I’ve heard it’s the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes/day (The statistic I heard is probably and exaggeration - I’ve not seen any studies on it - just mentioning it because I think sitting all day is bad for health, and that’s the only benchmark I’ve heard about it.)

There are lots of these types of “risk” in “normal” life (breathing city air, poorly ventilated office buildings, being around lots of people in office buildings - who carry various infectious pathogens, etc.) What the study tells me is the cumulative effect of these everyday risks, have a much greater impact on health than pesticide exposure (on average) to render pesticide risk statistically irrelevant for applicators.

Is it possible applicators could live even longer lives, if they maintained all other parts of their lifestyle w/o applying pesticides? Perhaps. A month longer, a year longer, five years? I don’t think anyone knows.

From my own perspective, I engage in some high risk activities from a health standpoint. I admit I eat pretty much anything that tastes good (too much sugar and fat). I’m active, but almost never get my heart rate up (no jogging, bicycling, etc.) I never go to the doctor, unless I’m in extreme pain. My dad died at age 57 from a heart attack. My mother has had melanoma. Her uncle died from melanoma. So I’ve got a lot risk factors which render pesticide exposure fairly low in my overall personal risk appraisal.

I think a lot of people (perhaps most) are in the same boat (though perhaps not as extreme as I). I’ve read divorce increases health risks substantially (my guess is the same is true for people unhappily married). It’s also possible being single could affect one’s health (though I don’t think there is anything conclusive on this). I think there is also a health linkage to education. Based upon the study, it seems to me, the risk of pesticide applicators is not enough to move the needle (healthwise) in the face of all the other risks people face in life.

I think this is a little different than cigarette smoking. I may be wrong, but I’m not aware of any large studies which indicated smokers lived longer than non-smokers. Still, I understand your skepticism. I think your overall point is that hindsight is 20/20, and collective knowledge in the medical community has been wrong before.


Ju Ju, potential carcinogens and other health risks surround us, and I fail to see why pesticides, which are generally fairly degraded by the time the public is exposed to them should be considered uniquely risky.

There are the naturally occurring carcinogens, which will mostly remain unknown because there is no funding to investigate. Peanuts grown in humid climates contain carcinogenic mold for example- but what about the molds in compost and woodchips that give me headaches when I move large quantities- who knows? Certainly there are molds that occur in homes known to be very dangerous, but long term consequences of inhaling them are not studied at all. We do know about radon, but that is just because we discovered it indirectly based on other exposures to radiation.

Then there are the natural pesticides in plants- some of the herbs we use in cooking are inedible to most of the insects here in the northeast- have there been expensive studies on the long term affects of consuming large amounts of oregano? I’m not joking, cancer is not something that strikes quickly enough to develop resistance through evolution- so even foods we’ve been eating for thousands of years could be dangerous.

And of course, the synthetic chemicals that people are exposed to at much higher rates than pesticides- this list is too exhausting to delve much into, but we can start with the plastics our foods are distriuted and stored in. It is already known but only for about 15 years, that many of them leach large quantities of synthetic estrogen which is clearly potentially dangerous.

I believe that pesticides are much more rigorously studied that the majority of the synthetic materials our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis that are just as likely to be dangerous to our health.

The good news it we aren’t dying younger as a group.

i agree with you re all the other naturally-occurring carcinogens/aflatoxins, etc, as well as with all other man-made materials with bpa’s/formalin etc we use everyday which are not meant to be pesticides, but could still have acute, insidious, or bioaccumulative effects. Just like you, those are on my radar.

i guess the difference is that pesticides are on my radar too.

the rigorous studies done on pesticides to prove ‘safety’ is generally about ruling out the acute/short-term effects. The insidious effects may only be attributed by correlation, and only after many years down the road.

it is the unknown that i feel the need to be vigilant about, which try to avoid/minimize unless i don’t have other options, be it mundane household materials/food-- or medications/pesticides.

to each his/her own, of course. Freedom of information and freedom of choice.

1 Like

If you like to apply chemicals to the food you grow, and grow GMO plants and believe in their use, you should let everyone know about it. Share your knowledge and enthusiasm with others. Promote the benefits, etc. Hand them that spot free piece of fruit and let them know that all the chemicals were applied according to EPA, state, federal and manufacturer specifications.

Many of these chemicals are hard to pronounce (for those of us that won’t come anywhere near them), so imagine how impressive that will be, when those nine syllable “science-y” words roll off your tongue! And yes, drive it home by selling them on the cost savings. Be sure to give them a solid scolding if they utter the “O” word.

1 Like

I think we do on a daily basis here. Where have you been?

1 Like