Is organic farming safer to farmers’ health? A comparison between organic and traditional farming
Published Date:Feb 24 2014
Source:Toxicol Lett. 230(2):166-176.
T-cell Receptor Mutation Assay
Pubmed Central ID:PMC4532340
Funding:CC999999/Intramural CDC HHS/United States
Exposure to pesticides is a major public health concern, because of the widespread distribution of these compounds and their possible long term effects. Recently, organic farming has been introduced as a consumer and environmental friendly agricultural system, although little is known about the effects on workers’ health.
To evaluate genetic damage and immunological alterations in workers of both traditional and organic farming.
Eighty-five farmers exposed to several pesticides, thirty–six organic farmers and sixty-one controls took part in the study. Biomarkers of exposure (pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates, and thioethers in urine and butyrylcholinesterase activity in plasma), early effect (micronuclei in lymphocytes and reticulocytes, T-cell receptor mutation assay, chromosomal aberrations, comet assay and lymphocytes subpopulations) and susceptibility (genetic polymorphisms related to metabolism - EPHX1, GSTM1, GSTT1 and GSTP1 - and DNA repair – XRCC1 and XRCC2) were evaluated.
When compared to controls and organic farmers, pesticide farmers presented a significant increase of micronuclei in lymphocytes (frequency ratio, FR=2.80) and reticulocytes (FR=1.89), chromosomal aberrations (FR=2.19), DNA damage assessed by comet assay (mean ratio, MR=1.71), and a significant decrease in the proportion of B lymphocytes (MR=0.88). Overall, organic farmers presented similar levels of genetic damage as controls, in some cases modulated by GSTT1 and GSTM1, GSTP1 105Ile/Ile and XRCC1 399Gln/Gln genotypes.
Results confirmed the increased presence of DNA damage in farmers exposed to pesticides, and showed as exposure conditions and genetic background influence observed effects. Findings from this study indicate that no evident genetic or immunologic damage can be observed in organic farmers.
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