The scientific advancements in the agriculture sector have brought about the manufacture of numerous synthetic chemicals and toxic pesticides. The children, whether living in the villages or in the cosmopolitan cities, are exposed to these chemicals one way or the other. Most parents do not realize the grave danger their children are in from the health risks posed by the exposure to these pesticides and other chemicals.
Pesticides are purposefully designed to be toxic so as to be able to kill insects, fungus, weeds, rodents, and other pests. The fruits and vegetables that are vital to the children’s health are compromised by the ongoing contamination by the pesticides. When they eat conventional food, they are actually consuming a dangerous combination of pesticides known to cause brain damage, cancer, have ill effects on nervous system, and disruption of the endocrine system and immune system.
Almost all pesticides contain Organophosphates. The residue of this chemical found in crops is one of the top three environmental cancer risks. It is also linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in children, Parkinson disease, decreased male fertility, etc. Children are more vulnerable to these risks as they have a higher intake per unit body of weight. Also, their relatively immature organ systems have limited capability to detoxify the body of these substances.
Chemical fertilizers are used to provide essential nutrients and boost the growth of the plant in quality, as well as, quantity. Nitrate, which is a common ingredient in most of the fertilizers, gets converted into nitrosamines. These are retained in the crop yield and the consumption of such a yield may result in causing cancer, over a period of time.
Genetic modification involves using genetic engineering to insert or remove genes. This is done for a variety of reasons such as to get high yielding seeds, or modifying certain DNA to improve the immunity of the crop, etc. Experts, however, are still not sure of its quality and side effects on human health and are on research and debate at large.
The additives used in foods have an adverse effect on children’s health. Tetrazine (yellow colour) is related to asthma, allergic reactions, growth retardation, headache, and hyperactivity in children. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, has dangerous effects on the heart. Transfats (hydrogenated fats) are directly linked to coronary heart disease (CHD). There is also a risk of cancer and skin problems from the use of these additives.
Radiation is used in the Genetic Modification process. It is also used on the crops to kill the bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. It is well known that in long-term, exposure to such radiations can have cancerous effects on eyes, kidneys, heart, bones, etc.
Chemical preservatives are used in packed food items to increase the shelf life of the product. However, the excess amount of these preservatives has some dangerous side effects on human health. A few of the problems caused by these side effects are hypertension, kidney malfunctioning, obesity, heart diseases, etc. Due to high levels of consumption of packed and convenient food, children (and people, in general) in the urban areas are at the severest risk of hazards from preservatives.