Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Pharmaceuticals In Soybeans? Crops Absorb Toxins, Research Shows

Scientists have found that certain crops easily absorb pharmaceuticals and personal care products, or PPCPs.

soybean plants

Photo: santheo (flickr)

A team of environmental scientists used soybeans as the test crop to see how contaminants are absorbed by plants.

Scientists have found that certain crops easily absorb pharmaceuticals and personal care products, or PPCPs. Those chemical likely come from irrigating fields with recycled water or use fertilizer made from treated sewage.

A team from the University of Toledo in Ohio tested soybeans’ ability to absorb a variety of PPCPs and found that the chemicals tend to accumulate in the plant most easily by way of contaminated water.

Environmental scientist Chenxi Wu at Toledo believes toxicology tests should follow this study to determine the effect PPCPs have on the plants themselves and the animals that eat contaminated plants.

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Megan Meyer

Megan Meyer was in the company of foodies for most of her formative years. She spent all of her teens working at her town's natural food co-op in South Dakota, and later when she moved to Minneapolis, worked as a produce maven for the nation's longest running collectively-managed food co-op. In 2006, she had the distinct pleasure (and pain) of participating the vendanges, or grape harvest, in the Beaujolais terroire of France, where she developed her compulsion to snip off grape clusters wherever they may hang. In the spring of 2008, Megan interned on NPR's Science Desk in Washington, D.C., where she aided in the coverage of science, health and food policy stories. She joined Indiana Public Media in June, 2009.

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  • 1tal

    Toxicology tests won't tell us what we need to know. Instead we need endocrinology testing for these chemicals. It was endocrinology testing that revealed the cellular/endocrinological toxicity of phthalates at levels orders smaller than toxicology testing would implicate. To this day, industry-funded toxicologists continue to deny biological effects at the levels endocrinologists have determined are altering the sexual expression of amphibian & mammalian species.

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