Nasty Pesticide Broken Down by Probiotic Used In Culturing Food


By  Sayer Ji

Contributing Writer for  Wake Up World

A study published in  Letters in Applied Microbiology  shows that a commonly used food probiotic known as  Lactobacillus  plantarum  is capable of degrading dangerous pesticide residues in wheat (pirimiphos-methyl), confirming the traditional fermentation-based food-processing technique known as  culturing  can significantly improve the safety of conventional food.

The researchers found that  Lactobacillus  plantarum  enhanced the degradation of the pesticide from 15-34%, a close to 81% enhancement. The significance and impact of the study was described as follows:

“Pesticide residues are an unavoidable part of the environment due to their extensive applications in agriculture. As wheat is a major cultivated cereal, the presence of pesticide residues in wheat is a real concern to human health. Reduction in pesticide residues during fermentation has been studied, but there is a lack of data regarding pesticide residues dissipation during cereal fermentation. Present work investigates the dissipation of  pirimiphos-methyl  during wheat fermentation by L.  plantarum. Results are confirmation that food-processing techniques can significantly reduce the pesticide residues in food, offering a suitable means to tackle the current scenario of unsafe food.”

Conventional wheat and other commonly consumed grains receive post-harvest pesticide treatment to prevent their infestation during storage.[1]  Very little degradation occurs during storage, and milling does not significantly reduce the bulk of the chemicals, but in fact results in the distribution of their residues in various processed products.   This has raised particular concern in regard to the contamination of baby food products containing cereal ingredients,[2]  especially since wheat bound pesticides such as  pirimiphos-methyl  have been found to have high  bioavailability  in animals.[3]  [4]

The natural health movement has long advocated for reducing the well-known antigenicity and  allergenicity  of cereal grains  through sprouting, fermentation and culturing (e.g. the sourdough process in bread making), but this new finding sheds light on another way in which these traditional methods may reduce the bodily burden of not just natural (e.g.  gluten,  lectins) but man made toxins, as well.

Previous groundbreaking research has found that lactic acid producing (Lactobacilli) bacterial strains from the fermented cabbage-based Korean food known as  kimchi  are capable of degrading four different  organophosphorous  insecticides by using them as a source of carbon and phosphorous.[5]  [6]   In fact, probiotics have been found to potentially offset a wide range of modern-day toxic exposures, including  Bisphenol  A, Chemotherapy, Gluten, Aspirin and Sodium Nitrate.   [See:  8 Ways Microbes Can Save Us From Ourselves]

Ultimately, the best way to avoid pesticide exposure is to consume organically produced food, or better yet,  biodynamically  farmed food where no petrochemical inputs are used from the bottom up (soil to harvest). But, failing this increasingly difficult task to obtain entirely chemical-free food, it behooves us to recognize the value of food culturing and fermented food for our health. For additional information read  The Amazing Healing Properties of Fermented Food.

Updated September 2014

Article References





[5]  C Phillip  Shelor, Andrea B Kirk,  Purnendu  K  Dasgupta, Martina  Kroll,  Catrina  A Campbell,  Pankaj  K  Choudhary.  Breastfed infants metabolize  perchlorate.  Environ  Sci  Technol. 2012 May 1 ;46(9):5151-9.  Epub  2012 Apr 20.  PMID:  22497505

[6]  Kye  Man Cho,  Reukaradhya  K Math, Shah  Md  Asraful  Islam, Woo Jin Lim, Su Young Hong,  Jong  Min Kim,  Myoung  Geun  Yun,  Ji  Joong  Cho, Han  Dae  Yun  .  Biodegradation of  chlorpyrifos  by lactic acid bacteria during  kimchi  fermentation.  J  Agric  Food  Chem. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1882-9.  PMID:  19199784

Further articles by Sayer Ji:

About the author

Sayer Ji is the founder of, an author, researcher, lecturer, and an advisory board member of the National Health Federation. Google Plus Profile. His writings have been published and referenced widely in print and online, including, Truthout,, New York Times online, The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, New York Times   and The Well Being Journal.

He founded in 2008 in order to provide the world an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities. It is widely recognized as the most widely referenced health resource of its kind.


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