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We are all exposed to pesticide residues in the foods we eat, the Dietary Risk Index (DRI) is one way of measuring the potential risk from these exposures.

Archived HHRA News Posts
  • Heartland Study Enrolls 1,000th Mother-Infant Pair

    July 19, 2024 – In June of this year, the Heartland Study achieved a major milestone, enrolling its 1,000th mother-infant pair. Enrollment is now at 50% of goal. The objective of the Study is to help fill major gaps in our understanding of the impacts of herbicides on maternal and infant health. Currently in Phase 1, the Study is focused on evaluating associations between herbicide concentrations in body fluids and tissue samples from pregnant women and infants, and pregnancy/childbirth outcomes. Phase 2 is designed to evaluate potential associations between herbicide biomarkers and early childhood neurological development. Much appreciation for the mothers enrolled, and the entire Heartland Study Team including scientists, support staff and clinicians for this tremendous achievement, and for our funders to making this work possible. Read more about the study including peer-reviewed studies published in Chemosphere and Agrichemicals at our publications  page. The investment required to conduct this study exceeds $1 million each year. You can support this important work by making a donation here.

  • HHRA’s 2023 Annual Report

    Last year was a year of progress for the HHRA and the Heartland Study. Read about it here!  

  • Supporting HHRA and the Heartland Study Through Donor-Advised Funds

    An increasingly popular way to manage charitable giving is by donating cash, securities, or other assets into a donor-advised fund (DAF), from which you will receive an immediate tax deduction. From this, donors can recommend grants to IRS-qualified nonprofit organizations.  DAFs are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to “grow” resources earmarked for future charitable giving.  The HHRA is an IRS-qualified organization, and we encourage you to use your DAF, if you have one, to support our mission. You can find three simple steps to supporting our research via your DAF here.  Simple and convenient, your DAF can have genuine effects on the health of mothers, babies, and future generations.  Thank you!

  • HHRA-funded Dicamba study published in “agrochemicals”

    Dicamba and 2,4-D in the Urine of Pregnant Women in the Midwest: Comparison of Two Cohorts (2010–2012 vs. 2020–2022) Abstract Currently, there are no known human biomonitoring studies that concurrently examine biomarkers of dicamba and 2,4-D. We sought to compare biomarkers of exposure to herbicides in pregnant women residing in the US Midwest before and after the adoption of dicamba-tolerant soybean technology using urine specimens obtained in 2010–2012 from the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-be (N = 61) and in 2020–2022 from the Heartland Study (N = 91). Specific gravity-standardized concentration levels for each analyte were compared between the cohorts, assuming data are lognormal and specifying values below the LOD as left-censored. The proportion of pregnant individuals with dicamba detected above the LOD significantly increased from 28% (95% CI: 16%, 40%) in 2010–2012 to 70% (95% CI: 60%, 79%) in 2020–2022, and dicamba concentrations also significantly increased from 0.066 μg/L (95% CI: 0.042, 0.104) to 0.271 μg/L (95% CI: 0.205, 0.358). All pregnant individuals from both cohorts had 2,4-D detected. Though 2,4-D concentration levels increased, the difference was not significant (p-value = 0.226). Reliance on herbicides has drastically increased in the last ten years in the United States, and the results obtained in this study highlight the need to track exposure and impacts on adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Keywords: pesticide; exposure; 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; human biomonitoring You can read the paper here.

  • Crop-killing Weeds Advance Across US as Herbicides Lose Effectiveness

    Farmers say they are losing their battle with weeds at a time when growers are grappling with inflation and extreme weather linked to climate change. Crop-killing weeds such as kochia are advancing across the U.S. northern plains and Midwest, in the latest sign that weeds are developing resistance to chemicals faster than companies including Bayer and Corteva  can develop new ones to fight them. In many cases weeds are developing resistance against multiple herbicides, scientists said. Read the Reuters report here.  Read an earlier post by the HHRA board chair on the problem of resistant weeds here.

HHRA Executive Director Publishes Paper on the Dietary Risk Index System for Measuring Pesticide Risk from the Diet

by Rachel Benbrook | Jan 7th, 2021
by Rachel Benbrook | Jan 7th, 2021
We are all exposed to pesticide residues in the foods we eat, the Dietary Risk Index (DRI) is one way of measuring the potential risk from these exposures.

Charles Benbrook, HHRA’s Executive Director, and his colleague Donald Davis of the University of Texas-Austin’s Biochemical Institute published a peer-review paper in October, 2020 describing the analytical system they developed to measure the risk from pesticide exposure in the diet.

This peer-reviewed paper describes the methodologies and data sources incorporated in the Dietary Risk Index system, or DRI. This system quantifies the relative risks from exposure to pesticides in foods. The paper serves as a gateway to an analytical system that, for the first time, provides insights into the levels and distributions of pesticide risks in different foods, in foods grown in the U.S. versus imported food, and in conventionally grown versus organic food. See much more on the DRI, and access the system via interactive lookup tools at Dr. Benbrook’s website Hygeia Analytics.

In short, applications of the DRI show clearly where the “hot potatoes” are in the food supply relative to pesticide risk, as well as the significant share of the food supply posing little or no risk. DRI tables drive home the fact that pesticide dietary risk is substantially concentrated in just a few dozen foods, and for these relatively high-risk foods, a small percent of annual production accounts for most of the risk.

These findings support two encouraging conclusions. First, for all crops, many farmers have developed Diversified Pest Management (DPM) systems that routinely avoid significant residues and pesticide risk. By investing in prevention-based research and DPM system innovation, the same success in avoiding high-risk pesticide uses can be replicated on a higher percentage of annual production.

Second, regulators can dramatically reduce overall pesticide dietary risk by focusing on the few pesticide-food combinations accounting for most pesticide risk. They have a number of tools to draw upon in reducing residues including lowering maximum, allowed application rates, extending pre-harvest intervals, and altering how pesticides are applied (i.e. switching from liquid sprays onto growing plants to granular applications incorporated into the soil).

 

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