“Pesticide residues pose no long-term risk to humans”, European Food Authority EFSA falsely claims


Food Authority EFSA  claims in their just released 2010-pesticides residue European monitoring report [1] that pesticide residues in food pose no long-term risks to humans. PAN Europe feels this claim 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. However, 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 data). 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 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 data).

Hans Muilerman of PAN Europe Chemicals Officer, comments:  „Commissioner Borg should do a better job. In fact the  Health and Consumers Commissioner is not focussed enough on protecting Consumers Health since the European Commisison continues to allow new dangerous pesticides on the market and and approves a range of derogations for harmful pesticides, increasing exposure of people to pesticides”. Hans Muilerman also critisizes the lack of activity of Mr. Borg on promoting good farming practices as part of the Sustainable Use Directive 2009/128/EC which also could contribute to less polluted and more healthy food.

Finally 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.

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Further information

For further information please contact:

Hans Muilerman, Tel: +316 55807255, hans [at] pan-europe.info

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