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Jul 10, 2009

EU Report Finds Pesticides in Organic Food

On 10 July 2009 EurActiv.com reported that an annual monitoring report compiled by Parma-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had found traces of pesticides in organic food products for the first time.  This is significant in that it challenges public perception that organic foods are pesticide-free.

In the study 4% of all samples (conventional and organic) exceeded legal Maximum Residues Levels (MRLs).  A total of 354 different pesticides were found in fruits and vegetables and 72 different pesticides in cereals. In general, organic samples had lower frequency of MRLs (1.24% as compared to 3.99-4% in conventional produce).

At issue is how the organic industry defines a pesticide.  According to organic agriculture advocate FiBL's Gabriela Wyss,"it is absolutely true that pesticides are also used in organic farming ... [however they] are not synthetic pesticides but from natural origins. ... What makes a difference is how these products react in the environment ... pesticides used in organic farming are toxic but in a very narrow time window and disappear very quickly in the environment".  Wyss suggested that "pesticide traces found in organic food might have come from persistent chemicals which were banned years ago and are still present in the soil or air. .... [or] from spray drift and other situations where there are interfaces among organic and conventional environments".

For more see: "EU report reveals pesticides in organic food," EurActiv.com, 10 July 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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