Algae Autism Solutions to avoid Pesticide Exposure

by Dr. Mark Edwards

Previous Algae 101 posts proposed algae solutions to pesticide exposure to reverse the terrible expanding autism epidemic among our children. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. Autism currently affects 1 in 68 children, up from 1 in 2,000 in 1985. The CDC reports that autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average and ASD costs the nation over $137 billion per year. However, the cost of pesticide exposure goes far beyond autism and ASD.

David Pimentel estimated in 2004 that the U.S. incurs $10 billion in environmental and societal damage from pesticides. Costs in addition to public health include livestock and livestock product losses; increased control expenses resulting from pesticide-related destruction of natural enemies, gains in pesticide resistance in pests; crop pollination problems and honeybee losses; crop and crop product losses; bird, fish, and other wildlife losses; and governmental expenditures to reduce the environmental and social costs of the recommended application of pesticides.

Total estimated environmental and social costs from pesticide in the U.S. Source: David Pimentel, 2004.

Total estimated environmental and social costs from pesticide in the U.S. Source: David Pimentel, 2004.

The annual cost pesticides impose on the U.S. in 2014 probably exceeds $15 billion. Algae solutions may be able to save 10% or, $1.5 billion annually. A reduction in pesticide exposure also will provide substantial benefits because pesticides inflict human and animal suffering from cancer, neurological and reproductive disorders. Reduced pesticide exposure will decrease the incidence of chronic diseases and the imposition of genetic damages, epigenetic modifications, endocrine disruption, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and a host of additional medical conditions, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


Pesticides are substances used to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate any pest ranging from insects, animals and weeds to microorganisms. Pesticides are commonly referred to by their functional class for the organisms that they are designed to control, such as herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides.

The EPA lists more than 1055 active ingredients registered as pesticides, which are formulated into more than 350,000 products that have been licensed for use in the U.S. The EPA reports that > 2 billion pounds of pesticides are applied annually to crops, homes, schools, parks, and forests. Such widespread use results in pervasive human exposure. Epidemiologic studies indicate that, despite premarket animal testing, current exposures are associated with risks to human health.

Pesticide application

Pesticide application

There is a huge body of evidence on the relation between pesticide exposure and elevated rate of chronic diseases such as many types of cancers, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), birth defects, and reproductive disorders. Many clinical studies have shown association between pesticide exposure and other chronic diseases such as respiratory problems, particularly asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, chronic nephropathies, autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematous and rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and aging.


Symptoms of pesticide exposure include fever, nausea, headaches, twitching, trembling, excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, seizures, muscle tremors, constricted pupils, increased hear rate, lack of coordination, tearing, inability to breathe because of paralysis of the diaphragm, convulsions, and in some cases death, often from respiratory failure. Pesticide poisoning often goes undiagnosed because victims may display the reverse symptoms.

Low dose exposure to organophosphate pesticides is linked to an array of health problems:

  • Developmental Effects: Organophosphates interfere with healthy neurodevelopment, leading to behavioral problems and lower cognitive function. A recent study shows children exposed to OPs are more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
  • Reproductive Effects: As endocrine disrupters, organophosphates have a significant impact on the human reproductive system. The presence of OP metabolites in the body is associated with reduced levels of testosterone and other sex hormones. Exposure to OPs may have an adverse effect on male fertility. The Ontario Farm Family Health Study reported that post-conception exposures were generally associated with late spontaneous abortions.
  • Cancer: The CDC reports that several studies link organophosphate exposure to leukemia and lymphoma. The EPA classifies the OP diclorvos as a “probable human carcinogen.”
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Since OPs affect the brain; it is not surprising that they have been linked to neurological disorders. Living near applications of diazinon, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate has been found to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Pesticide exposure causes neurological insults that lead to cancer and Parkinson’s

Pesticide exposure causes neurological insults that lead to cancer and Parkinson’s

Pesticides are ubiquitous in modern industrial agriculture. Pesticides put not only producers and consumers at severe health risk but also threaten rural communities. Algae offer several solutions to reduce pesticide exposure:

  1. Algae-based foods that are grown without pesticides and are pesticide free.
  2. Algae biofertilizers that enhance crop vitality and induce plants to produce natural biopesticides and reduce the quantity of pesticides needed.
  3. Polluted water remediation with algae.
  4. Algae compounds that moderate the symptoms of diseases caused by pesticide exposure.
  5. Algae medicines that repair damage done by pesticide exposure or reduce disease progression and risk.

Algae foods can be produced without pesticides and offer a novel solution for eliminating pesticide exposure.

Algae foods

Various algae species offer all the essential macro and micronutrients for human health and vitality. Algae101 includes over a dozen posts on the economic, social and environmental value of algae-based foods. Freedom Foods deliver superior nutrition and taste without pollution or waste. These foods enable healthier choices for consumers, farmers, animals and the environment. Freedom Foods are not only free of pesticides but also free of GMO material, gluten, meat products and allergens.

Algae foods from and Algae Industry Magazine

Algae foods from and Algae Industry Magazine

Algae induced biopesticides

Our research with Dell Monte demonstrated that algae-based fertilizers delivered nutrients that were immediately bioavailable to the crop. Terrestrial algae found in the field near Yuma, Arizona was cultured local to the field and returned in concentration of over 100,000x to the crops through the irrigation drip system. This research is summarized in the book SmartCultures, Sustainable, MicroAlgae Regenerative Technologies. The algae biofertilizer improved produce yields by over 30%, increased germination rates and speed to maturity by 20 to 30%, and improved soil porosity by 500%.

Algae induced biopesticides were an unexpected finding in these field trials. The algae biofertilizer clearly improved plant health and vitality because every physical crop metric was significantly improved compared with the control fields. The farmer was able to reduce fertilizer application by 30 to 50% because the algae biofertilizer delivered the essential nutrients that were immediately bioavailable to the plants. The unexpected finding was the reduction in herbicides fungicides and pesticides by 30 to 80%. In general, pesticide applications were reduced by 50%.

Polluted water remediation

Some water districts have used algae for water remediation for over 50 years. Algae can remove botanical and animal organic wastes from polluted water. Algae are very tiny organisms, often only 5 µ small. Therefore, when algae cells absorb a large molecule such as a pesticide, the cell cherry picks the individual elements from the pesticide molecule, detoxifying the pesticide. Of course, water containing substantial amounts of pesticide poisons would better be used as biofuel or biofertilizer then for food or feed.

Algae wastewater remediation

Algae wastewater remediation

Symptom moderators

Pesticide exposure is linked to numerous inflammatory diseases including asthma, hay fever, periodontitis, atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Algae compounds, notably omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to relieve symptoms for these diseases.

No algae compounds have yet been found that have been proven to moderate the flash-firing neuronal synapses or to cure autism or ADHD, although several compounds found in algae moderate the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, including ADHD.

Algae therapeutics

Compounds found in algae can produce pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medicines for diseases associated with pesticide exposure. Dozens of medical studies link pesticide exposure with over 15 types of cancer. Medicines made primarily of algae compounds are currently in research or trial phase for over 30 types of cancer.

Chlorella is used for preventing cancer, reducing radiation treatment side effects, stimulating the immune system, improving response to flu vaccine, increasing white blood cell counts (especially in people with HIV infection or cancer), preventing colds, protecting the body against toxic metals such as lead and mercury, and slowing the aging process.

The blue-green algae spirulina is used as a source of dietary protein, B-vitamins, and iron. Spirulina is also used for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hay fever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Spirulina has been used for precancerous growths inside the mouth, boosting the immune system, improving memory, increasing energy and metabolism, lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, healing wounds, and improving digestion and bowel health. Spirulina has been shown to chelate with heavy metals such as arsenic and remove them from the body. Recent studies found spirulina supplements modestly successful in treating colon and prostate cancer.

Stephen Mayfield’s team at UC San Diego recently succeeded in genetically engineering Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to produce a complex and very expensive human therapeutic drug used to treat cancer. The team also demonstrated that algae could produce more complex protein useful for human therapeutic drugs, such as human vascular endothelial growth factor, used to treat patients suffering from pulmonary emphysema.


The social and environmental cost of pesticide applications in the U.S. may exceed $15 billion a year. Algae offer more solutions to the challenges caused by pesticides then any other organism.

Algae food, feeds and biofertilizers will revolutionize our food supply, creating a clean food revolution with foods that deliver superior nutrition and taste without pesticide residual on the food or pesticide pollution in the environment. Algae bioremediation of polluted wastewater will reduce pesticide exposure in rural communities. Algae compounds can provide relief from several diseases caused by pesticide exposure. New algae medicines hold promise for treatment diseases linked to pesticide exposure including ADHD, diabetes, immune system maladies, brain function, metabolism, heart disease and many types of cancer.

It is time the USDA, EPA, FDA, and NIH organizes a strategic team to address effective and sustainable solutions to the social and environmental impacts of pesticides.