Why Organic Fruit May Contain Just as Many Pesticides

The debate rages on that organic fruit may contain just as many pesticides as non-organic. Recent research reveals that 23 percent of organic fruit contains pesticide residue. Traditionally grown and cultivated fruit contains 75 percent pesticide revenue. Notably, this residue does not register above any unsafe levels as set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, the study also pointed out that of greater concern was not the level but the type of pesticide found. Comparing the type found in organic fruit led to labeling the organic fruit as cleaner.

Drift Effect

A good deal of the residue found in organic fruit was from organchlorine pesticides like DDT. Scientists conducting the study offer the opinion that a drift effect from adjacent fields traditionally cultivated using chemical pesticides was windblown to organic cultivated fruit. Furthermore, the study did not take into consideration any chemical residue possibly leftover in the soil from earlier use with traditional cultivation methods.

Random Sampling

The study followed the procedure that randomly purchased 1,000 lbs. of fruit and produce that included peaches and apples. The techniques for growing the fruit ranged from organic to green-label to conventional obtained from different areas throughout the country. For test purposes, organic was defined as fruit grown using only natural pesticides such as either plant extracts or naturally occurring bacteria that would attack crop pests. Green-label techniques claim that produce is raised with less damaging farming practices that included the reduced use of pesticides and employing crop rotation.

Tested for 300 Pesticides

Fruit was tested for 300 different synthetic pesticides. Toxicity for each was measured taking into account the short term and long term toxicity for each pesticide and the amount that was found on each sample tested. The organic samples showed the least amount of toxicity was found in the organic samples. Traditionally grown foods had the most toxicity. The Green-label fruit generally had low levels of pesticide residue. There was only one sample that was above any federal guidelines. Traditionally grown samples had residues far more than organic or green in eight fruit crops tested and four—apples, pears, peaches and strawberries—had more than 90 percent of the samples tested containing pesticide residue.


The test, conducted by the independent Consumers Union, the group that publishes the Consumer Reports, concluded that although both organic and traditional fruits contained some level of pesticide residue. The study also stated that trying to avoid pesticides in fresh fruits altogether by not eating any is a detrimental choice since there is some residue in all. The report stated that consumers could reduce exposure to pesticides eating fruits with fewer residues. An offshoot of the study also indicated that organic fruit was just as tasty as conventionally grown fruit. Recent certification programs established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are establishing stricter guidelines and definitions for what constitutes an organic fruit.

Although organic fruit has gained in popularity, it still presents a cost that is 57 percent greater than traditionally grown produce.