Increasing presence of hazardous pesticides on fruits and vegetables
The study of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe shows a dramatic rise in the most toxic pesticides found on fruits and vegetables sold in Europe and evidence that governments are failing their legal obligations.

According to the 2020 EU Farm to Fork strategy, the amount of the more hazardous pesticides should be halved by 2030. Based on sales, the European Commission already claims a 12% reduction in 2019 compared to 2015- 2017. PAN report, however, uses other indicators, it analyses the national monitoring data of residues on fruits and vegetables which characterizes the actual risk of consumers much better than pesticide

The analysis starts in 2011 when the use of these most hazardous pesticides should by law have started to decrease significantly. Indeed, these most dangerous substances belong to a group called ‘Candidates for Substitution’, defined in Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009. Member states have been legally obliged to substitute these ‘Candidates for Substitution’ in pesticides with safer alternatives, since 2011. But in fact, according to the report, contamination with these pesticides have increased till 2019. Some highlights of the results of the report:

  • While kiwi fruits were almost free (4%) of these most toxic substances in 2011, almost a third (32%) were contaminated in 2019. Likewise, half (50%) of all cherries sampled by officials were contaminated in 2019, compared to 22% in 2011.
  • By 2019, 87% of the pears produced in Belgium were contaminated with at least one of them and 85% in Portugal. Likewise, 74% of cherries grown in Spain were affected, and 85% of celery from Italy.
  • In 2019, the proportion of fruit and vegetables contaminated with the most hazardous pesticides increased by 8.8% compared to 2015-2017.

The results draw attention to an important problem, but at the same time, it is important to note that the analysis focuses on the proportion of contaminated samples and does not present the levels of contamination, therefore it is not clear whether the presence of the pesticides would actually pose health risk to the consumers or whether the level of contamination measured in the samples meets the toxicological thresholds or maximum residue limits. 


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