By Philip Case

Farmers Weekly

A Europe-wide monitoring programme of pesticides in food has shown residue compliance rates above 97%.

Tests carried out in 2013 on more than 81,000 food samples found 97.4% were within the maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides permitted in the EU.

The report by the EU food safety body, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), found more than half of the food tested contained no residues at all.

See also: Imported food five times more likely to exceed pesticide limits

“Pesticides play a key role in helping farmers produce high-quality, healthy and affordable food.”
Nick von Westenholz, Crop Protection Association

The fungicides boscalid, cyprodinil and fludioxonil were the most commonly found pesticides. The Bayer neonicotinoid thiacloprid, which has been linked to a decline in bee health, was found in 11% of samples.

However, the report concluded that the very small presence of residues found in food was unlikely to have long-term effect on the health of consumers.

Pesticides are among the most heavily regulated products in Europe – it currently takes about 10 years, costing £150m, to bring an active ingredient to market.

The Crop Protection Association (CPA) welcomed the findings of the Efsa report as “good news for consumers, farmers and the crop protection industry”.

CEO Nick von Westenholz said: “Pesticides play a key role in helping farmers produce high-quality, healthy and affordable food.

“Regular monitoring studies such as this are crucial in reassuring consumers that they can trust farmers and have confidence in the safety of their produce.”

But Georgina Downs, of the UK Pesticides Campaign, said: “The fact that such a high percentage of residues of toxic pesticides are found in the food we all consume is simply unacceptable.

“While Efsa may want to play down the significance of these findings by asserting that the risks from pesticides in food is ‘low’, European citizens would be horrified to know the cocktails of chemicals that are being used to produce food.”

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