Pesticide residues in food commodities and foodstuffs are exempt from FDA labeling requirements. They are considered indirect food additives and not regulated by the FDA.
There are many pesticides used on crops grown all over the world. One of the most harmful to children and developing fetuses are those classified as organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Exposure to OP prior to and after birth is associated with the development of autism and ADHD (1-9). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) routinely collects hundreds of samples of crops for pesticide residue analyses through the Pesticide Data Program (PDP). The results of their annual analyses can be found at their website (10).
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control have determined that feeding children organic fruits and vegetables significantly lowers their pesticide exposure (11). Whether or not you decide to switch to organic food is up to you but if you are pregnant or have children with ADHD or autism, you should know that in addition to fruits and vegetables, OP residue has been found in wheat end products such as cereal, bread, and macaroni noodles (12, 13). You can't wash OP pesticides off of these products of which children are high end consumers.
The chart below provides some OP pesticide residue data for wheat along with per capita consumption data extracted from the USDA food availability website (10, 14).
OP Pesticide Residue and Per Capita Consumption Data for Wheat
The evidence suggests that switching to organic food may prevent symptoms associated with autism and ADHD (15, 16). If you have a child with autism or ADHD, it is important to understand that he may have difficulty metabolizing the OP pesticide residue in conventionally grown fruits, vegetables, grains and wheat end products due to his low PON1 gene activity levels (17, 18). Children with autism and ADHD have shown significant improvement in many areas by switching to an organic diet (15, 16).
4.Jurewicz, J. & Hanke, W. Prenatal and childhood exposure to pesticides and neurobehavioral development: review of epidemiological studies. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 21, 121-32 (2008).
5.Bouchard, M.F. et al. Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and IQ in 7-year-old children. Environmental Health Perspectives 119, 1189-95 (2011).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3237357/pdf/ehp.1003185.pdf 6.Perera, F.P. et al. A summary of recent findings on birth outcomes and developmental effects of prenatal ETS, PAH, and pesticide exposures. Neurotoxicology 26, 573-87 (2005).
7. Shelton, J.F., Geraghty, E.M., Tancredi, D.J., Delwiche, L.D., Schmidt, B.R., Hansen, R.L., Hertz-Picciotto, I. (2014). Neurodevelopmental disorders and prenatal residential proximity to agricultural pesticides: the CHARGE study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 122(10), 1103-1109. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4181917/pdf/ehp.1307044.pdf
13. Balinova, A., Mladenova, R., Obretenchev, D. (2006). Effect of grain storage and processing on chorpyrifos-methyl anad pirimiphos-methyl residues on post-harvest treated wheat with regard to baby food safety requirements. Food Addit Contam, 23(4):391-397.
15. Patel, K., Luke, C. T. (2007). A comprehensive approach to treating autism and attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder: a prepilot study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(10):1091-1097.
16. Pellow, J., Solomon, E.M., Barnard, C.N. Complementary and alternative medical therapies for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Alternative Medicine Review, 16(4):323-337. http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/16/4/323.pdf
17. Pasca, S. P. et al. (2006). High levels of homocysteine and low serum paraoxonase 1 arlesterase activity in children with autism. Life Sci, 78, 2244-2248.