Pesticide Residues Exceed Limit on Strawberries


(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2008)

A survey of 31 Australian strawberry growers conducted by a consumer watchdog revealed that almost all conventionally grown strawberries contained residues of pesticides. Several samples of the strawberries tested contained pesticide residues that exceeded the legal limit, and some even tested positive for pesticides banned for use on strawberries. Tests revealed that that 17 of the 27 samples of conventionally grown strawberries registered residues of at least two types of pesticide or fungicide. Four samples had traces of four different chemicals on the skin that had penetrated the fruit’s flesh as well.

Choice, the chemical watchdog group that commissioned the survey, described the findings as alarming and calls on the Australian Government to remedy years of neglect over pesticide regulation, and to require independent, mandatory testing of all fruits and vegetables.

“Analysis shows strawberries are more likely to have pesticide residues than other fresh fruit, and washing does not necessarily remove them,” said Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn. “Strawberries contain lots of nutrients but unfortunately they also tend to contain residues of pesticide‚ there are some concerns about long-term exposure to a mixture of different pesticides.”

Jo Immig, the coordinator of National Toxics Network Inc, said the findings showed that the regulation of pesticides in Australia had fallen woefully behind. “The results, should alarm customers, and in particular parents of small children, who are at far greater risk of damage from pesticide exposures,” she said.

Australian strawberries are not the only ones to have recorded significant amounts of pesticide residues. In 2007, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program released its latest annual summary detailing pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply. In fruits and vegetables, 73 percent of fresh and 61 percent of processed produce had detectable residues. On strawberries, at least 30 different pesticide resides were detected, along with 31 in grapes, 36 in apples, and 43 in lettuce. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) also reported 2006 pesticide use statistics, which showed strawberry growers had increased their reliance on the highly toxic, ozone depleting fumigant methyl bromide (See Daily News

Studies have shown pesticide residues are higher in children that are fed conventional versus organic foods, and that an effective way to reduce a child’s exposure to pesticide residues on food is to change their diet to organic. Children with organic diets contain significantly less metabolites of toxic pesticides in their blood and urine.

TAKE ACTION: Buy organic foods for yourself and your family whenever possible. If organic foods are not easily accessible to you due to cost or distribution, consider buying organic for the foods you eat the most. To make sure your food is organic, look for the USDA Organic label.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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