The Consumers Union (CU) has formally raised concerns about the use of pesticides on produce and their impact on human health (workers, consumers and especially children) and the environment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last week, the CU wrote letters to the three agencies citing a Consumer Reports article that highlights the World Health Organization’s decision to classify the herbicide glyphosate--including Roundup--as “probably carcinogenic to humans” after evaluating feedback from 17 oncology experts in 11 countries. Use of such herbicides is not consistently monitored by the federal government.

Because children are most at risk when it comes to the vulnerabilities of pesticides, research was based on how it would affect a 3.5 year old child weighing about 35 lbs. The most harmful fruits--even those grown in the U.S.--containing pesticide residues include peaches, tangerines, plums, apples, strawberries and cantaloupes. As far as vegetables, green beans, sweet bell peppers and hot peppers--including those grown stateside--were found to have the highest risks. Experts suggest that consumers opt for the organic versions of these produce items.

The CU has asked the EPA, USDA and FDA to take a number of actions, including banning the riskiest of pesticides, strengthening all existing pesticide residue testing programs, promoting organic standards and allowing public access to information about all ingredients in pesticides.