[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
April 23, 1997

Our Children's Toxic Legacy: How Science and Law Fail to Protect Us From Pesticides

Author Affiliations

University of Maryland College Park

JAMA. 1997;277(16):1329-1330. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540400081047

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Pesticides are highly toxic substances whose typical intended use requires concentrated uncontained environmental release. They are sprayed into the air, poured into water, applied to soils, plants, animals, and foodstuffs, and incorporated into household and workplace materials. All pesticides harm nontargeted species and strains. Most persist longer than desired. Many accumulate along the food chain or concentrate in food processing. Some are degraded or metabolized into substances of enhanced toxicity. Any pesticide may to some degree mix with other pesticides, with or without transformation, and their combinations may then have new effects, additive or synergistic, unwanted or unrecognized, or both.

More than a century into the history of pesticide use and decades into the era of pesticide-use acceleration, greater than a third of yearly food and fiber production worldwide is still lost to pests. For some heavily embattled crops, the rate of loss and the rate of pesticide treatment have