New Report: Agricultural Pesticides Increasingly Linked to Childhood Cancers and Neurological Harm

Policymakers urged to protect children living on “frontline” of pesticide exposure


Park Rapids, Minnesota – A new report released today spotlights pesticides used in the food system in Minnesota and the harmful effects they are having on children in the state and nationwide. In particular, the report finds that those children living or attending school near agricultural fields face some of the greatest risk of exposure from pesticides linked to cancers and impacts on the developing brain.

In Minnesota, rural community groups including Toxic Taters, White Earth Land Recovery Project, and Land Stewardship Project are collaborating with Pesticide Action Network to release the report in north central Minnesota communities that are surrounded by RD Offutt’s potato fields. They will host educational events in Park Rapids on Tuesday and Pine Point on Thursday.

Kids on the Frontline provides a rigorous assessment of dozens of independent studies, reviewed by leading academic experts in the field. The report finds that the research has grown increasingly strong surrounding the links between pesticides used in food production and cancers—particularly leukemia and brain tumors— as well as the risk of developmental disorders or delays, including autism spectrum disorders.

“Children in agricultural communities are on the frontline of exposure to pesticides that don’t respect boundaries,” said Emily Marquez, PhD, an endocrinologist and staff scientist at PAN, as well as one of the authors of the report. “Pesticides linked to cancer and neurological harm travel through air, water and dust and end up in homes and schools, and eventually in children’s bodies.”

The challenges children face are part of what leading researchers have termed a “silent pandemic” of diseases

driven by environmental factors, including pesticides. Rates of childhood leukemia and brain tumors have risen

fortyplus percent in the last fifty years and one in every six U.S. children are now diagnosed with one or more

developmental disabilities.

“As a mom in greater Minnesota, I worry about the effects that pesticides could have on my toddler's health and brain development,” said Noelle Harden of Vergas, a Minnesota town surrounded by potato, corn, and soybean fields. “Because of where I choose to live, or what my neighbor chooses to spray, my kid could be affected for the rest of his life. That's a disturbing thought for a parent.”


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