The Harvard University researchers have conducted a study on the effect of pesticides-laden fruits and vegetables on the fertility of men. 338 samples were taken from 155 men. The men were between the ages18-55.The food was divided into categories of low, moderate and high. There were four groups of men which ranged from the people who consumed food laden with highest amount of pesticides and lowest amount of pesticides. The data was collected from United States Department of Agriculture. The diet details of the men were collected through a food questionnaire. Food practices like peeling and washing of fruits and vegetables were taken into account. The study was conducted with the above data and the following observations were made.

The Observation

  • The men who consumed fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of pesticides had an average sperm count of 86m per ejaculation.
  • The men who consumed fruits and vegetables with the lowest amount of pesticides had an average sperm count of 171m per ejaculation.
  • The amount of sperms which were formed normally was 7.5% found in the group which consumed the lowest amount of pesticides.
  • The amount of sperms which were formed normally was 5.1% found in the group which consumed the highest amount of pesticides.
  • The difference between the total sperm count was almost 50% which constituted a huge difference.


The men who participated in this study seeked help from fertility clinics which presented a doubt about the quality of their semen. The assessment of diet was done only once but it could vary over time. Dr.Jackson Kirkman Brown lead at Birmingham Women’s fertility Centre opined that in this study the quantity of pesticides was not measured which suggested that the results of the study could be affected by the particular fruits and vegetables they ate. Also the researchers did not have any knowledge about whether the fruits and vegetables chosen for the study were organic or otherwise. The editorial writers associated with the study suggested that the effect of pesticides on the diet of a man were dependent on genetic factors as well as development factors. Dr Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield said that there could be other parameters for the effect as the conclusion was based on an observational study.


The food with high amount of pesticides was apples, pears, peppers, spinach and strawberries. The food with low amount of pesticides was peas, beans, grapefruit and onions. Dr Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said that these results should not create discouragement among men to consume fruits and vegetables and instead they should eat more organic food. Dr. Hagai Levine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and Dr. Shanna Swan of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York wrote that the study should be conducted with an increases sample size and a varied one because the study so far was restricted to men who visited fertility clinics.