Toxic Pesticides Common in UK Fruits & Vegetables

From <>

June 19, 20002 FOE

Friends of the Earth¹s analysis of the latest Government survey of pesticide
residue results reveal that a cocktail of pesticides above legal and safety
limits has been found in a range of fruit and vegetables. The results were
published today by the Pesticides Residues Committee (PRC)

Some of the key findings of the report are:

* UK grown non-organic strawberries contained dicofol at illegal levels.
Dicofol is not approved for use on strawberries in the UK. Dicofol is
similar to DDT and is a suspected hormone disrupter. The 3 organic
strawberry samples were free of residues.
* Organophosphate (OP) pesticides were found above legal limits in,
grapes, starfruit, nectarines and peaches. In peaches and nectarines the OP
methamidophos exceeded safety levels for adults and toddlers, the PRC
admitted that ³safety levels have been significantly eroded².
* All 'soft citrus' fruit contained residues including imazalil at levels
which the PRC described as "an unacceptable risk for all consumer groups"
but went on to say that most of the residue was assumed to be in the peel.
* Potatoes were found to contain aldicarb above safety levels. Aldicarb
is a carbamate insecticide which works on the nervous system, it is highly
toxic and is classified by the World Health Organisation as Œextremely
* Iprodione, a suspected hormone disrupter, was found above legal limits
in UK celery although it is not approved for use on celery here.
* Most grapefruits (83%) and lemons (93%) tested contained pesticide
* Lindane was found in mushrooms. This pesticide is now banned in the EU
and there are fear that exposure to this pesticide may be linked to breast
* One sample of tomatoes from Spain contained residues of 6 different
pesticides, none of the 5 organic samples of tomatoes contained residues.
* 97% of the fresh salmon samples contained residues. DDT was found in
fresh and canned salmon (due to contamination of food or the environment).

Pesticides were also found in bread but milk was found to be free of

The Pesticides Residues Committee states that none of the samples present
safety concerns for consumers but only looks at exposure levels in
individual foods, not the overall cocktail of pesticides that people are
being exposed to. Recently Dr Brown, the chair of the Committee admitted
that there was "cause for concern" about the threat to young children being
exposed to pesticide residues in food. He said was he "particularly worried"
about the potential risks where food was contaminated by several similar
chemicals, such as different forms of heavily restricted organophosphate
pesticide, which could combine to create a "cocktail effect" (Independent on
Sunday 9/6/02)

In recognition of the additional vulnerability of babies and young children
to pesticide residues new regulations will be introduced on 1st July this
year which effectively prohibits residues in baby food by setting the
allowable level at the limit of detection. But no such protection is
extended to toddlers eating fresh fruit and vegetables.

Although more of the pesticides exceeding legal limits were found in
imported produce, nine UK samples contained illegal levels of residues
(above the Maximum Residue Level) and nine other UK samples were found to
contain pesticides which are not approved for use in the UK. The Government
has a policy to minimise pesticide use. These results suggest it is not
doing enough to implement it.

It¹s very disappointing to see that high levels of pesticides were found in
UK foods as well as imports and that illegal use of pesticides continues to
be a problem. We want the Government to take more action to crack down on
dodgy chemicals in imported food but it must also do more to help farmers in
the UK to get off the chemical treadmill².

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