Biologist asks policy makers to ban harmful pesticides
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The startling revelation was contained in a report published by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN-Europe) this week revealing almost a third of apples and nearly half of all blackberries analysed had traces of chemicals used in the most toxic types of pesticides, linked to cancers, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. And former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib said the concerning statistics proved why Britain’s decision to quit the bloc was the right one all along.
The analysis, based on almost 100,000 samples, highlights a 53 percent increase in contamination by the most hazardous pesticides found in fruit over the period 2011-2019. Toxic substances found in kiwi fruit rocketed from four percent over the eight year period, with more than half of the cherries likewise contaminated in 2019.
The European Union is committed to halving the use and risk from pesticides by 2030, in accordance with its Farm to Fork strategy. Consequently Brussels began monitoring progress three years ago, and the European Commission hailed a 12 percent drop in 2019 in the use of pesticides which contained such toxic chemicals.
However, PAN Europe’s report shows an eight-percent increase in the proportion of contaminated fruits and vegetables, compared to 2015-2017.
Salome Roynel, a campaigner from PAN Europe, said: “These chemicals should disappear from our food. But instead, we observe a dramatic increase in exposure to these most toxic substances over the last ten years.”
Laws were being ignored and consumers consequently being exposed to risk, Ms Roynel added.
Since 2011, EU member states have been legally obliged to substitute the most dangerous substances in pesticides with safer alternatives – but the report says failing to implement the rules properly have resulting in increased plant and insect resistance to the most dangerous pesticides, resulting in their continued use.
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Ms Royal added: “It is clear to us that governments have no intention of banning these pesticides, but medical experts say some chemicals have no safe limit and that applies to most of these pesticides.”
Belgium, at the heart of the bloc, is the principle offender, PAN Europe pointed out, with 34 percent of all samples contaminated). Ireland (26 percent) was second, followed by France (22 percent), Italy (21 percent) and Germany (20 percent).
A whopping 87 per cent of pears in Belgium and 85 per cent of pears in Portugal were contaminated by a minimum of one toxic chemical.
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In general, blackberries, peaches, strawberries, cherries and apricots were found to be the most contaminated fruits.
Pesticide contamination of vegetables was lower, but toxic pesticides were increasingly being found in some, namely celery, cucumbers, spinach and lettuce.
Celery, celeriac, kale, chicory and Brussels sprouts were the most contaminated.
Even if the Commission passes laws to “improve standards” many member nations simply do not follow them
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “The EU famously beats its holier than thou chest as a world leader in regulatory moral correctitude. The reality is far from this.
“Even if the Commission passes laws to “improve standards” many member nations simply do not follow them. For me this was one of the reasons the UK had to leave.
“Not only were we bleeding cash to the EU, we always rigorously implemented their rules, further impacting our economy – and I am not talking about just farming products, where British standards lead the world.
“It is not surprising therefore to read that EU agricultural produce is still stuffed full of harmful pesticides. Just because the Commission wants, does not mean it gets. Member states do what they wish.”
He added: “Their failure to get their own house in order also belies their narrative that agricultural product from Great Britain may not enter Northern Ireland without first being checked. Our food standards are higher than those in the EU. We certainly have a much cleaner agricultural sector and a much more humanitarian treatment of livestock.
“It is time for the EU to remove that massive plank from its own rotten eye.”
Express.co.uk has approached the European Commission for comment.
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