Pesticide Regulation202-331-1010 • www.cei.org • Competitive Enterprise Institute
Eating Fruits and Veggies TrumpsPesticide Risks
The main cause of cancer is not pesticideresidues, but rather the nutritional value of what a person eats.
In fact, a seminal study by Sir Richard Doll
and Richard Peto apportioned 2 percent of cancer cases to causation by all environ-mental pollutants found in the air, water,and food and 35 percent of all cancers todietary factors.
Accordingly, the World Health Organiza-
tion advocates increased intake of fruits andvegetables, to reduce the cancer incidencerate by 30 percent across the board.
The quarter of the U.S. population consum-
ing the least amount of fruits and vegetableshas a cancer rate twice as high as the quarterof the population consuming the most fruitsand vegetables.
Moreover, only 36 percent of Americans
older than two consume the U.S. Department
10. Robert S. Lichter and Stanley Rothman,
Environ-mental Cancer: A Political Disease?
(New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1999).11. Richard Doll and Richard Peto, “The Causes of Cancer: Quantitative Estimates of Avoidable Risksof Cancer in the United States Today,”
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
66, no. 1192 (1981):1235, 1251. In addition, Doll and Peto estimatethat tobacco use is responsible for 30 percent of thecancer cases in the United States. For more informationon cancer risks, see “The True Causes of Cancer” and“Cancer Trends,” in
.12. World Health Organization, Programme for CancerControl,
Developing a Global Strategy for Cancer
(Ge-neva: World Health Organization, 2000).13. Bruce N. Ames, and Lois Swirsky Gold, “Environ-mental Pollution, Pesticides, and the Prevention of Can-cer: Misconceptions,”
11, no. 3 (1997):1041–52.
of Agriculture–recommended amount of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Hence, if we want to reduce cancer risks, weshould focus on consuming more produce.
Pesticides Promote Health through Affordable Produce
To promote public health, policy shouldwork to ensure that families—particularlylower-income families—are able to afford freshproduce. Pesticides play a key role in increas-ing supply and thereby keeping these productsaffordable.Use of modern agricultural technology and
chemicals has reduced the cost of food,thereby improving nutrition, particularlyfor lower-income families. In fact, at theturn of the 20th century, before the use of modern agricultural practices, Americansspent 20 percent of their income on food.Now, the average American family spendsapproximately 10 percent of its disposableincome on food.
Affordability is a key concern for most
Americans. Consumers who say that theywould pay for residue-free foods are willingto pay only a small increase. In one survey,46 percent said they would pay more forsuch products, but only 15 percent of thoserespondents would pay more than 10 per-cent extra.
14. “Achievements in Public Health, 1900–1999: Saferand Healthier Foods,”
Morbidity and Mortality WeeklyReport
48, no. 40 (1999): 905–13, http://www.cdc.gov/ mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4840a1.htm.15. International Food Information Council Foundation,
.16. National Research Council, Commission on LifeSciences,
The Future Role of Pesticides in U.S. Agri-