According to a study, fruit and vegetables sold in Germany are heavily contaminated with pesticides
Fruit and vegetables in Germany are heavily contaminated with pesticide residues, according to a study by the environmental organization Greenpeace. The pollution level is particularly high if vegetables and fruit products have been grown outside the European Union (EU).
On behalf of Greenpeace, food experts examined samples of around 22,000 types of fruit and vegetables, the data of which date from 2009 and 2010. The data come from the German food surveillance and have been re-evaluated by the commissioned food experts. In addition, results from pollutant studies by the environmental protection organization were consulted. The bottom line showed that more than 80 percent of conventionally grown fruit and more than 55 percent of non-organic vegetable samples contained pesticides. In the tests, mostly goods from Germany performed relatively well compared to other countries of origin. Overall, fruit and vegetable samples from the EU were less contaminated than fresh food from non-EU countries such as Turkey.
Particularly burdened: fruit from Turkey
Table grapes, peppers, pears, zucchini and grapefruit, which were produced in Turkey, particularly often exceeded the pesticide limits applicable in the EU in the evaluation. Exotic fruits such as okra and fresh chili peppers from India and Thailand showed a particularly high level of pollution from pesticides. Lettuce from the producing countries Italy, Holland and Belgium were also heavily burdened. For years, Greenpeace has denounced the pollution in lettuces. Experts identified high residues as early as 2010. Not much has changed to this day.
Consequential health effects from pesticides Pesticides disrupt the hormonal balance of the body and can damage the human immune system. The result: cancer tumors and damage to the nervous system. "If you want to avoid pesticides in your food, you should choose organic goods or pay attention to the country of origin of fruit and vegetables," said Manfred Santen, chemical expert at Greenpeace. Because almost a third of the examined vegetables and fruits were so heavily contaminated that consumption according to the environmental group was "not recommended".
Chemical cocktails in fruits and vegetables
A total of 351 different substances were detected in the 22,481 samples. Numerous vegetables and fruit products had a large number of chemicals. For example, the experts found a whole chemical cocktail with 24 pesticides in table grapes. Some research by recognized scientists suggests that different pollutants can potentiate and therefore increase. "This happens even at low concentrations," says the researchers. In this context, Greenpeace criticizes that pesticides are "only assessed individually" within the EU. There are no border guidelines for pesticide cocktails in food. "A wide range of pesticides can be legally sprayed in fruit and vegetable growing," says Santen. "Greenpeace calls on Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner (CSU) to better protect consumers and the environment from pesticide cocktails."
In 2012, environmentalists developed an updated rating system that is strictly based on the principle of preventive health care. According to the Greenpeace experts, the current pesticide limit values are not sufficient to "adequately protect particularly vulnerable groups of the population such as small children, pregnant women and the sick from agricultural toxins." The maximum pesticide content in the EU was 3.1 percent for fruit and Vegetables exceeded in 4.8 percent of cases, as Greenpeace said on the publication of a new food guide "Eating Without Pesticides".
Farmers use chemical mixtures to comply with guidelines. The use of pesticides, some of which are highly toxic, gets the pesticides into the vegetable and fruit products. In 2010, the pesticide limit values for 11 chemical substances were lowered across the EU. This affected e.g. Peppers, cucumbers and grapes. Since 2005, the maximum values have been regulated by the European regulation entitled "EU maximum residue levels for pesticides in food". The proven combination effect through the use of several pesticides is still not reflected in the regulation. Background: Conventional farms use several different crop protection products with different pollutants in order not to exceed the maximum values for individual substances. As a result, the food is contaminated with numerous chemicals. (sb)
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