By Steve Milloy
While it’s not surprising that children from the inner city and Latino farmworker communities might perform slightly less well than average American children on development tests, anti-pesticide activists can make it news if they can link that performance to pesticides. And so they have tried.
Environmental Health Perspectives published three studies today purporting to link prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with substandard performance on development tests by the aforementioned groups of children.
I’m sure than the well-known anti-pesticide activist-researchers involved (Brenda Eskenazi, Frederica Perera and Mary Wolff) expect to overwhelm the media with their message by simultaneously releasing all three studies right before Earth Day, but here are the underlying fatal flaws common to all three studies:
- Even accepting the study results at face value for the sake of argument, the test score deficiencies are insignificant. There is no meaningful developmental difference between a child who scores a 100 on an IQ test vs. one who scores a 101.4.
- Childhood development is a complex, multifactorial phenomenon, which these researchers have magically reduced down to blood levels of pesticide metabolites. While most reasonable people would point to the children’s general plight in Lower Social-economia as the likely cause of whatever development issues they may have, Eskenazi, Perera and Wolff have conjured up a superficial statistical analyses to advance their personal financial and political agendas as well as the bureaucratic and political agenda of their funding agency, the anti-pesticide EPA.
- There is no known biological mechanism that explains how legal exposures to pesticides might lead to developmental problems.
Interestingly and as we pointed out last week, Eskenazi and Perera are also blaming these same children’s developmental issues on brominated (PBDE) flame retardants.
Can’t wait to see what gets blamed next week.
Here are the three “studies”:
- Bouchard et al., “Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year-Old Children“.
- Engel et al., “Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphates, Paraoxonase 1, and Cognitive Development in Childhood“.
- Rauh et al., “7-Year Neurodevelopmental Consequences of Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Organophosphate Pesticide“.