PAN EuropeIssues


Food Contamination continues

Food Authority EFSA claims in their just released 2010-pesticides residue European monitoring report that pesticide residues in food pose no long-term risks to humans. This claim however is totally unjustified since EFSA doesn’t calculate the numerous mixtures of pesticides in the food sold in European shops and assumes people are exposed to only one single pesticide in their entire life. About half of our food contains pesticide residues and more than 26% of all vegetables and fruit sold even more than one pesticide (see Figure below, based on EFSA monitoring reports over the years). On a daily basis European consumers will eat dozens of different pesticides. The pollution in some products is very high; in one sample of food even up to 26 pesticide residues can be analysed. Calculating the risk just based on one pesticides makes no sense and is unscientific. The EFSA claim should therefore be abandonned since it creates a false feeling of safety.

In general the pollution of European food with pesticide residues remains at a very high level and there is no improvement visible in recent years. Not only multiple residues are at a historical high level but also the percentage of vegetables and fruit without detectable pesticides lowered. This percentage in 2010 (55%) went down 2,5% compared to 2009 and even 10% compared to 10 years ago (see Figure below, based on EFSA monitoring reports over the years).

The EFSA claim that the compliance rate remains high is misleading. In 2009 the standards for pesticide residues were relaxed on a massive scale, 10, 100 up to 1000x. Therefore the high compliance rate is artificial and has nothing to do with better acievements.   This is the more worrying since from 1st january 2014 on all European farmers have to practice IPM, Integrated pest management. These good faring practices should lead to less use of pesticides and less residues in the products. However the lack of activity of Dg SANCO, the responsible DG,  on promoting good farming practices as part of the Sustainable Use Directive 2009/128/EC makes it unlikely we soon will see better results of the residue monitoring programme.
In 2008 PAN-Europe started a court case against the massive watering-down of residue standards since there was no proper health assessment (such as on mixtures) and it was only serving the nterest of trade companies. Commission denied PAN-Europe access to court but in a landmark verdict Luxembourg court ruled that Commission should ive PAN-Europe access based on the Aarhus convention as signed by the EU. Now Commission dened the claims of PAN-Europe  and we have to face another trip to Luxembourg court and wait for the final verdict. In the meantime European citizens keep on exposed to high levels of pesticide residues and mixtures of pesticides in their food. For Commission the precautionary principle is clearly a ’dead letter’ and commercial concerns seen as of much higher value than people’s health.



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