Eating fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues linked with poor semen quality

Pesticides on Vegetables and Fruit Linked to Lower Sperm Counts

fruits image
This is the first study to look at the connection between exposure to pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables and semen quality. Image by Christian Ostrosky.

2015 Study Abstract

Is consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues associated with lower semen quality?
Consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues was associated with a lower total sperm count and a lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm among men presenting to a fertility clinic.

Occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides is associated with lower semen quality. Whether the same is true for exposure through diet is unknown.

Men enrolled in the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) Study, an ongoing prospective cohort at an academic medical fertility center. Male partners (n = 155) in subfertile couples provided 338 semen samples during 2007–2012.

Semen samples were collected over an 18-month period following diet assessment. Sperm concentration and motility were evaluated by computer-aided semen analysis (CASA). Fruits and vegetables were categorized as containing high or low-to-moderate pesticide residues based on data from the annual United States Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program. Linear mixed models were used to analyze the association of fruit and vegetable intake with sperm parameters accounting for within-person correlations across repeat samples while adjusting for potential confounders.

Total fruit and vegetable intake was unrelated to semen quality parameters. High pesticide residue fruit and vegetable intake, however, was associated with poorer semen quality. On average, men in highest quartile of high pesticide residue fruit and vegetable intake (≥1.5 servings/day) had 49% (95% confidence interval (CI): 31%, 63%) lower total sperm count and 32% (95% CI: 7%, 58%) lower percentage of morphologically normal sperm than men in the lowest quartile of intake (

Surveillance data, rather than individual pesticide assessment, was used to assess the pesticide residue status of fruits and vegetables. CASA is a useful method for clinical evaluation but may be considered less favorable for accurate semen analysis in the research setting. Owing to the observational nature of the study, confirmation is required by interventional studies as well.

To our knowledge, this is the first report on the consumption of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residue in relation to semen quality. Further confirmation of these findings is warranted.

Sources and more information
  • Eating fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues linked with poor semen quality, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, March 30, 2015.
  • Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic, Oxford Journals, 10.1093/humrep/dev064, March 30, 2015.
  • Pesticides on Vegetables and Fruit Linked to Lower Sperm Counts, newsweek, 3/31/15.
  • A Diet High in Pesticides Is Linked to a Lower Sperm Count, time, March 30, 2015.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, one of the most influential books of the twentieth century

In the late 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides.

Silent-Spring book cover image
Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, widely considered to be the most important environmental book of the 20th century.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Lord Shackleton, a preface by World Wildlife Fund founder Julian Huxley, and an afterword by Carson’s biographer Linda Lear.

Now recognized as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century, Silent Spring exposed the destruction of wildlife through the widespread use of pesticides. Despite condemnation in the press and heavy-handed attempts by the chemical industry to ban the book, Rachel Carson succeeded in creating a new public awareness of the environment which led to changes in government and inspired the ecological movement. It is thanks to this book, and the help of many environmentalists, that harmful pesticides such as DDT were banned from use in the US and countries around the world.

Rachel Carson (1907-64) wanted to be a writer for as long as she could remember. Her first book, Under the Sea Wind, appeared in 1941. Silent Spring, which alerted the world to the dangers of the misuse of pesticides, was published in 1962. Carson’s articles on natural history appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, Reader’s Digest and Holiday. An ardent ecologist and preservationist, Carson warned against the dumping of atomic waste at sea and predicted global warming.

More information

  • Website. Read reviews on Amazon and GoodReads.
  • Clip: The Bravery of Rachel Carson, billmoyers, May 15, 2014.
  • Great Women in Medicine Rachel Carson, Jeffrey Dach MD, January 6, 2014.
  • How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement, nytimes, SEPT. 21, 2012.
  • Margaret Atwood: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 50 years on, theguardian, 7 December 2012.

Pesticide Action Week

On Flickr®

Enquête Mediapart: Soupçon sur les Labos

Des membres éminents de commissions de médicaments supposées indépendantes ont conseillé secrètement les laboratoires pharmaceutiques

Après les révélations sur les liens d’affaires entre d’éminents membres des agences du médicament et les laboratoires pharmaceutiques, retour sur nos enquêtes : soupçon sur les labos en deux plateaux sur les liaisons dangereuses dans le secteur de la santé.

Articles Mediapart
  • Médicaments: la justice et le parlement se saisissent du scandale, Mediapart, 07 AVRIL 2015
  • Médicaments : la Haute Autorité de santé saisit le procureur, Mediapart, 04 AVRIL 2015
  • Médicaments : la Haute autorité de santé saisit le procureur, Mediapart, 26 MARS 2015
  • Médicaments : Marisol Touraine exige une enquête, Mediapart, 25 MARS 2015
  • Les gendarmes du médicament faisaient affaire avec les laboratoires, Mediapart, 24 MARS 2015
  • Vidéo publiée le 30 mars 2015 par Mediapart.
  • Regardez cette liste de vidéos sur les médicaments et média sur notre chaîne YouTube.

Effects of diethylstilbestrol exposure during gestation on both maternal and offspring behavior

The study results demonstrate the risks of endocrine disruptors on both mother as well as offspring

These 2015 study results suggest that estrogenic actions in utero are critical for both prenatal and postnatal development of reproductive organs and the brain, resulting in long-term effects on behavior. Image via Audra.

2015 Study Abstract

Endocrine disruption during gestation impairs the physical and behavioral development of offspring. However, it is unclear whether endocrine disruption also impairs maternal behavior and in turn further contributes to the developmental and behavioral dysfunction of offspring. We orally administered the synthetic non-steroidal estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) to pregnant female C57BL/6J mice from gestation day 11–17 and then investigated the maternal behavior of mothers. In addition, we examined the direct effects of in utero DES exposure and the indirect effects of aberrant maternal behavior on offspring using the cross-fostering method. In mothers, endocrine disruption during gestation decreased maternal behavior. In addition, endocrine disruption of foster mother influenced anxiety-related behavior and passive avoidance learning of pups regardless of their exposure in utero. The influence of DES exposure in utero, irrespective of exposure to the foster mother, was also shown in female offspring. These results demonstrate the risks of endocrine disruptors on both mother as well as offspring and suggest that developmental deficits may stem from both in utero toxicity and aberrant maternal care.

Study Conclusion

The results of this study indicate that endocrine disruption by DES exposure during pregnancy disrupts the adaptive behavioral changes in dams and that these behavior alterations in turn can impact pup behavior independent of DES exposure in utero. These findings underscore the risk of environmental endocrine disruptors to both the mother and fetus. Further studies on the influence of endocrine disruptors on maternal behavior induced by reproductive experience may lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying developmental impairments and facilitate interventions for reducing the risks conferred by these agents on both pregnant women and offspring.

Sources and Full Study
  • Effects of diethylstilbestrol exposure during gestation on both maternal and offspring behavior, journal.frontiersin, doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00079, 16 March 2015.
More DES DiEthylStilbestrol Resources

Fruits, Veggies, and Pesticides Infographic

Do you know what you are often getting when you bite into your favorite fruit or veggie?

We all know that we should all eat more fruits and vegetables every day. But did you know that you are often getting more than just a yummy snack when you bite into your favorite fruit or veggie?

Fruits, Veggies and Pesticides Infographic
Call for a pesticide-free spring! Join us!

Sources and more information

On Flickr®

Seven widely held assumptions about the value of medical care

Less Medicine, More Health from Dr. Gilbert Welch

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch is an academic physician, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, and a nationally recognized expert on the effects of medical testing. He sees the value of medical care, particularly in those who are acutely ill or injured. But in many other settings, we have exaggerated the benefits of medical care and understated its harms. In this video, Dr. Welch examines seven widely held assumptions about the value of medical care.

Assumptions covered
  1. All risks can be lowered
  2. It’s always better to fix the problem
  3. Sooner detection is always better
  4. It never hurts to get more information
  5. Action is always better than inaction
  6. Newer is always better
  7. It’s all about avoiding death
More information

Quelles sont les alternatives aux pesticides?

Un printemps sans pesticides, c’est possible


  1. Qu’est ce qu’un pesticide ?
  2. Répartition de la consommation de pesticides en France
  3. Grenelle 2 et plan ecophyto
  4. Comment réduire l’utilisation des pesticides en milieu agricole ?
  5. Production Intégrée, une autre forme d’agriculture
  6. Agriculture biologique
  7. Comment remplacer les pesticides en agriculture ?
  8. Zéro pesticide dans les collectivités
  9. Désherber sans chimie en zone urbaine
  10. Jardinage et usage domestiques
  11. Jardiner sans pesticides, comment faire ?


Bon Appétit ! Pesticides, genetic engineering and our Food Supply

Wash. ag officials investigate possible GMO alfalfa contamination…

Providing more information to consumers about bioengineered food and pesticides use would be useful.

Washington agriculture officials investigate possible GMO alfalfa contamination…
Call for a pesticide-free spring! Join us!

Sources and more information

On Flickr®

Global Livestock Antibiotic Use expected to Skyrocket by 2030

Antibiotic effectiveness imperiled as use in livestock expected to increase 67 percent by 2030

Antibiotics use in livestock is predicted to increase by as much as 67% by 2030 to more than 105,000 tons, and possibly endanger the effectiveness of antimicrobials in humans, according to researchers from Princeton University, the International Livestock Research Institute, the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy.

antibiotic use in livestock image
Princeton University-led research found that antibiotic consumption in livestock worldwide could rise by 67 percent between 2010 and 2030. Pigs outpace chickens and cattle in estimates of antimicrobial consumption in countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which is a consortium of 34 nations that includes the United States and most of the European Union countries. The graph measures antibiotic consumption in milligrams (bottom bar) in cattle, chickens and pork per population correction unit, or PCU, which corresponds to 1 kilogram of the respective animal. The average amount of antibiotics increases from left to right. The researchers found that pigs could consume an average 172 mg of antibiotics per kilogram of animal compared to 148 mg for chickens and 45 mg for cattle. (Image courtesy of Thomas Van Boeckel, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

2015 Study Abstract

Demand for animal protein for human consumption is rising globally at an unprecedented rate. Modern animal production practices are associated with regular use of antimicrobials, potentially increasing selection pressure on bacteria to become resistant. Despite the significant potential consequences for antimicrobial resistance, there has been no quantitative measurement of global antimicrobial consumption by livestock. We address this gap by using Bayesian statistical models combining maps of livestock densities, economic projections of demand for meat products, and current estimates of antimicrobial consumption in high-income countries to map antimicrobial use in food animals for 2010 and 2030. We estimate that the global average annual consumption of antimicrobials per kilogram of animal produced was 45 mg⋅kg−1, 148 mg⋅kg−1, and 172 mg⋅kg−1 for cattle, chicken, and pigs, respectively. Starting from this baseline, we estimate that between 2010 and 2030, the global consumption of antimicrobials will increase by 67%, from 63,151 ± 1,560 tons to 105,596 ± 3,605 tons. Up to a third of the increase in consumption in livestock between 2010 and 2030 is imputable to shifting production practices in middle-income countries where extensive farming systems will be replaced by large-scale intensive farming operations that routinely use antimicrobials in subtherapeutic doses. For Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the increase in antimicrobial consumption will be 99%, up to seven times the projected population growth in this group of countries. Better understanding of the consequences of the uninhibited growth in veterinary antimicrobial consumption is needed to assess its potential effects on animal and human health.

Sources and more information
  • Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals, pnas. 10.1073/pnas.1503141112, March 19, 2015. Supporting Information, PDF.
  • Global Livestock Antibiotic Use Expected To Increase 67% By 2030,, Mar 20, 2015.
  • Use of Antibiotics in Agriculture Expected to Skyrocket Worldwide, HealthlineNews, 23 March 2015.
  • Scientists Model Global Trends in Animal Antibiotic Use, foodsafetynews, MARCH 23, 2015.
  • Growth of global antibiotic use for livestock raises concerns about drug resistance, medicalnewstoday, 24 March 2015.
  • Antibiotic effectiveness imperiled as use in livestock expected to increase 67 percent by 2030,, March 26, 2015.

L’impact des pesticides sur notre santé

2015: la Semaine pour les Alternatives aux Pesticides fête ses 10 ans!

Troubles de la reproduction, cancers, troubles du système nerveux, les pesticides peuvent avoir des effets néfastes sur la santé des humains.

Les fœtus et/ou les enfants du fait de leur mode d’alimentation et de leur sensibilité spécifique aux polluants chimiques sont particulièrement exposés au danger des pesticides. Téléchargez le nouvel appel à participation  et diffusez le plus largement possible.