European wines systematically contaminated with pesticide residues

Pesticide Action Network Europe, together with NGOs from Austria, France and Germany, has uncovered substantial evidence that wines on sale in the European Union may contain residues of a large number of pesticides. The announcement follows an NGO investigation of 40 bottles of wine purchased inside the EU – including wines made by world famous vineyards.

100% of conventional wines included in the analysis were found to contain pesticides, with one bottle containing 10 different pesticides. On average each wine sample contained over four pesticides. The analysis revealed 24 different pesticide contaminants, including five classified as being carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic or endocrine disrupting by the European Union.

The discovery of pesticides in samples of wine follows the publication of a report by the French Ministry of Agriculture which identified 15 pesticides as being systematically transferred from grapes into wine during the wine-making process. Grapes are among the most contaminated food products on sale in the EU and receive a higher dose of synthetic pesticides than almost any other crop.

‘The presence of pesticides in European wines is a growing problem’, said Elliott Cannell of PAN Europe. ‘Many grape farmers are abandoning traditional methods of pest control in favour of using hazardous synthetic pesticides. This trend has a direct impact on the quality of European wines. In two thirds of cases the pesticide residues identified in this study relate to chemicals only recently adopted into mainstream grape production in the EU'.

‘Hazardous pesticides applied to food crops growing in the field can and do end up in food products. Almost half of all fruit and vegetables sold in the EU are contaminated with pesticides, with one item in 20 containing pesticides at concentrations above legal limits.

The NGOs are now calling on EU politicians and retailers to help eliminate hazardous pesticides from the food chain. ‘The problem of food contamination needs a political solution and a retail solution. European politicians have a responsibility to end the use of hazardous pesticides in the EU – starting with those classified as carcinogens, mutagens, reprotoxins and endocrine disruptors. Food retailers owe it to their customers to support farmers in lowering the amounts of pesticides applied to food crops.’

The analysis of wine samples purchased within the European Union was coordinated by PAN Europe and supported by Greenpeace Germany, Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) and MDRGF (Mouvement pour le Droit et le Respect des Générations Futures).

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Notes to editors [pdf]
Background information [pdf]
Full results [pdf]

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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.