Canadians Tire of Toxic Fruits and Veggies


Harvesting potatoes near Bonby, North Lincolnshire. Potatoes are among the top 12 most heavily pest- and weed killer-washed produce. Photo by D. H. Wright.

While the Canadian Cancer Society has been vocal about banning cosmetic pesticides in homes, they've been relatively mum on commercial use of pesticides...until now.

The Cancer Society hosted a conference—"Exploring the Connection: A State of the Science on Pesticides and Cancer"—Nov. 12 and 13 in Toronto to bring together leading researchers and the scientific evidence linking pesticides used on farms and cancer risk for children and adults.

And according to the public, it's about time someone took an interest. A recent online poll conducted by the Cancer Society revealed 60 per cent of Canadians surveyed were worried about pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables, and more than half said they don't have enough information on the issue to make informed choices about food purchases.

"Now, more than ever, Canadians are concerned about the food they eat and how it affects their health, including cancer risk," said Heather Logan, senior director of cancer control policy and information at the Canadian Cancer Society. "The conference is about protecting the health of Canadians by using the best information available to move forward."

The poll also revealed 80 per cent of those surveyed wash fruits and vegetables before eating them to reduce pesticide residue exposure, and 24 per cent purchase organic foods whenever possible.

The two-day conference featured researchers and policy-makers from institutions and agencies as respected and far-flung as the World Health Organization, the International Centre for Pesticides and Health Prevention, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss topics ranging from pesticide regulation and policy, to exposure and cancer risk in children
and adults.

The conference brought together leading researchers to present a body of evidence on adult and pesticide exposure in the workplace, in communities and in homes (on the foods we eat) in relation to cancer risk—as well as to identify gaps in that research. It also focused on alternative precautionary policy to minimize exposure to pesticides, as well as opening channels of information so the public, doctors and policy makers can be more aware of research in this area.

Tags: Agriculture | Cancer | Farming | Food Safety | Fruits & Vegetables | Pesticides | Toronto | Toxins

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