Pesticides and Breast Cancer

Re “Pesticides and Breast Cancer,” letters, Feb. 10.

This letter was a clear-cut example of how emotion sometimes overrides facts and science in regard to the use of pesticides to grow our foods. Breast cancer touches all of us. It is rare to meet someone who hasn’t had a friend or relative who has had to face this terrible disease. And we couldn’t agree more heartily that we must search diligently for answers to this and other cancers. But what are the facts?

The science community continues to look at the effect of a number of environmental estrogens on breast cancer. However, 99% of all human exposures are from naturally occurring plant-derived estrogens.

Researchers are finding factors that appear to prevent breast cancer. A Harvard study of the eating habits of 90,000 women found that those who ate “just a little bit of Vitamin A rich foods each day” were more apt than others to avoid malignant breast tumors.

Pesticide use in agriculture in California is heavily regulated with an entire department and multimillion-dollar budget on the state level. California continues to be the most heavily regulated state with the strictest laws on pesticides in the United States. California farmers are committed to adhering to these laws and, whenever possible, exceeding the requirements of the state. California farmers are known for being leaders in integrated pest management, a technique that is reducing the use of pesticides in our fields.

The Canadian Cancer Society recently examined the issue of pesticide residue in the food supply and its relation to cancer. It found that there is not enough residue in our foods to harm humans. It concluded that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is very important in the reduction of cancer risk.


DEBBIE CALVO, Executive Director, Alliance for Food and Fiber, Los Angeles

The Alliance for Food and Fiber represents more than 100,000 growers and ranchers in California.