Men consuming large quantities of fruit and vegetables contaminated with pesticide residues have a 50% lower sperm count than those consuming small amounts. This was the finding revealed by an American study evaluating, via a questionnaire, the fruit and vegetable consumption of 155 men, in which the level of pesticide residues was based on estimates by the US Department of Agriculture.
Pesticides are a pollutant we encounter each day. In addition to lowering semen quality in men, they may be a significant infertility risk factor among women with hereditary consequences potentially affecting the three following generations. They may also be responsible for genital malformation and may play a role in the appearance of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Just 1g of an active pesticide substance is enough to contaminate the amount of food consumed by 200 people in one year
Although the majority of the most dangerous pesticides are now banned in France, we still remain exposed to them through the environment and our diet (e.g. fruit, vegetables, cereals). This is, for example, the case with DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), an insecticide banned in France since 1972 but still found in French soils as it does not biodegrade easily. One study showed that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease had blood serum levels of metabolised DDT nearly four times higher than control participants.
What if pesticide consumption could be easily limited?
Simon Bernard, inventor of Scan Eat, thinks pesticide consumption can be limited. He has developed a thumb-sized scanner drive using infrared technology. It detects chemical molecules invisible to the naked eye and sends the results to a smartphone application. The practicalities of developing this invention on a large scale have yet to be explored. He is looking into how scientific data can be converted into information that consumers can easily understand.
“For example, you can still find traces of pesticides that are considered dangerous and that have long been banned in France. The device detects them and shows whether their levels are safe or not.” – Simon Bernard
With inventions such as Simon Bernard’s pesticide scanner, innovation in technology will facilitate new developments so that consumers are better able to take well-informed decisions about their food consumption. All of this suggests that future innovations should improve our health and reduce our environmental footprint. As a result, the food-processing industry will have to adopt more environmentally-friendly production methods.
These are precisely the new technologies that BNP Paribas Asset Management’ environmental fund managers are interested in. Companies able to make and distribute innovative, eco-friendly devices are likely to experience sustained growth in the coming years. The environment is definitely tomorrow’s new paradigm.
This article was written by Alexandre Jeanblanc and Maelys Lecrivain in Paris