Half of all foods contaminated, says PAN Europe
By Sophie Petitjean | Tuesday 05 June 2012
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and apples contain the highest levels of residues of endocrine disrupting pesticides, says a new report by Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN), published on 5 June. With its ‘top ten’ list of most disrupting food items, the network of non-governmental organisations puts out a warning on the long-term effects of these chemical compounds on health, including growth, sexual development and behaviour. It also asks the European Union to take account of the critical exposure threshold, the effects of low doses of endocrine disrupters (ED) and their cumulative effects when it draws up a list of endocrine system disrupting properties in 2013.
The PAN analysis builds on a report by the EU Food Safety Agency (EFSA) that examines food samples from across the Union. It also identifies 43 endocrine disrupting pesticides based on existing literature (since there are no specific criteria defining ED chemicals at European level). A comparison of these data, says PAN Europe, shows that among the 43 ED pesticides identified, 30 are found in foods in Europe. In other words, concludes the organisation, this means that half of European consumers’ food is contaminated by pesticide residues and one fourth has multiple residues, sometimes more than ten pesticides in a single sample. “Only organic products are pesticide-free today,” notes PAN Europe, which promotes sustainable alternatives to pesticide use.
This ‘top ten’ comes on top of the SIN (Substitute It Now) list, which identifies 22 endocrine disrupting substances for which safer alternatives are needed as a matter of urgency (see
NEW CRITERIA IN 2013
Endocrine disrupters are covered by Regulation 1107/2009 on the placing on the market of plant protection products (in force since June 2011) and Regulation 396/2005 on residues, which defines maximum pesticide levels in food. The latter text invites the European Commission to present, by 14 December 2013, a definition based on scientific criteria for the identification of endocrine disrupters.
In this context, PAN Europe urges the Commission to take account of low doses of chemical endocrine disrupters and to avoid thresholds not adapted to these compounds. The European Union should then take into account the cumulative effects (‘cocktail effect’) of endocrine disrupters. The organisation also calls for strong measures to protect vulnerable consumers, such as children and pregnant women.
Member of the European Parliament Asa Westlund (S&D, Sweden) will be presenting an own-initiative report on this subject in committee, on 6 November.