Arguing for improved sustenance options in America seems less than first-world. However food and water, the very substances that fuel us, remain reproductive and environmental justice issues. Food and water quality matter because they affect people as a whole, but especially people of color and those in the socio-economic margins.

The specific instances vary. Environmental and reproductive justice advocates focus on governmental shortcuts, like inhumanely switching the water source in Flint – which contributed to miscarriages and Flint women’s inability to conceive – and on new research from mostly Harvard-based scholars on the effects of pesticides in produce on pregnancy and viable births.

As Eco Watch reported, the new pesticides research focused on 325 women who underwent infertility treatment through technology assistance at a specific hospital in Boston. The scholars assessed connections between the women’s diets and whether they could give birth. Through a process that included subject self-reporting, the researchers noted the vegetables and fruits the women ate, along with which of those foods included significant amounts of pesticides.

The researchers connected strawberries, peaches and spinach with high pesticide levels and onions and avocados with low pesticide levels. What else did they find? Women who ate more than 2.3 daily servings of fruits and vegetables with high pesticide levels experienced almost a 20 percent lower likelihood of pregnancy. Their likelihood of giving birth altogether decreased by almost 25 percent. Fruits and vegetables with low levels of pesticides did not meaningfully affect the women’s ability to become pregnant and give birth.

Sure, this study is not a clear case for pesticides preventing pregnancies and/or compromising reproductive health. The research includes women in a specific area, which prevents a larger sample from which to study. Further, pesticides do serve disease prevention functions. But the larger issues, whether pesticides are abused in America and what quality food accessibility looks like in America, remain. These issues are so interwoven with American culture that they affect most of us, whether or not we are aware.

In America, capital is king. Domestic produce often results from overworked grounds, increased chemical treatments and boosted output. With the Environmental Protection Agency regulating pesticide levels and with higher pesticide levels approved, additional research will benefit people interested in the effects of pesticides on produce, particularly those who want to have children.

 

 

 

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