First, it’s important to note that the report you reference was criticized when it was released for claiming that “the true burden of environmentally (i.e., pollution) induced cancer has been grossly underestimated.” An ABC News reporter wrote at the time: “But paging through the lengthy report, it was difficult to find solid science to back that strong statement.” The American Cancer Society pointed out in a statement about the report that its conclusion “does not represent scientific consensus” but rather “reflects one side of a scientific debate.”
Second, pesticides in use today have been thoroughly evaluated for environmental and human safety. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates the sale and use of pesticides and requires robust studies and lengthy testing to demonstrate safety before any product reaches the market. Many products on the market today have specific modes of action for a target pest. An example of a class of crop protection chemistry that is marketed by DuPont and remains popular is sulfonylurea herbicides. These herbicides are used at very low rates (often less than one-tenth of a pound per acre) and disrupt an enzymatic pathway found only in plants, and therefore have minimal impact on other organisms (e.g., humans, birds, insects). For all products, strict handling requirements are implemented to limit potential farmworker exposure and also to limit products’ potential exposure to the environment and other non–target organisms.
On a personal note, I grew up on a farm, and my father, other family members and neighbors have used crop protection products all their lives and remain healthy and productive. While this is simply an observation, there are hundreds of thousands of family farmers across the country with a similar history of crop protection product safety.