Majority of Americans who were born before millennium pretty much grew up with think peanut butter on breads as breakfast. But food allergy, especially peanut allergy in children have seen a dramatic increase.
According to U.S.A. Centers For Disease Control there has been a 50% increase in the number of children with food allergies since the last 15 years. About 1 in 20 U.S.A. children have food allergies. Also, children with food allergy are 2 to 4 times more likely to have other related conditions like asthma and other allergies.
No one knows for sure what caused the increase, but Robyn O'Brien explores the toxic agricultural practices behind peanut farming in her article called “The Hidden Truth about Peanuts: From Food Allergies to Farm Practices.” She discovered that peanut crops are often rotated with cotton, which receives applications of glyphosate (commonly known as weed killer) that severely damages the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. This leads to an increase in the population of bad organisms in the soil which increases the number of diseases affecting peanut crop. Farmers will increase the amount of pesticide used on the peanut crop. USDA found 8 pesticides in peanut butter, and piperonyl butoxide, an organic compound used as a component of pesticide formulations which is carcinogen, was found 26.9% of the time.
Also, peanuts tend to be grown in the warm places which promoting the growth of fungus. The fungus itself isn't a problem but it will release a poison called aflatoxin which causes cancer. Scientists at Cornell University have found a correlation between liver cancer and peanut consumption. The levels of aflatoxin in peanut butter vary greatly, depending on brands. The highest levels are in those freshly ground peanut butter from health food stores.
It makes sense that eating foods bathed in chemicals will have a serious impact on human health, and we’re probably just starting to see the effects (peanut allergy in children) since shifting from small, diversified farms to large-scale mono-crops. While it’s probably too late to undo the plethora of peanut allergies, perhaps we can decrease allergies in the next generation by paying closer attention to how peanuts are produced.