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Pesticides in Food

06.11.2006, PAN Germany Presse-Information

A great concern for new EU-citizens in Central and Eastern Europe

A recent survey by the European Commission shows that 71% of the EU-25 citizens are worried about pesticide residues in fruit, vegetables and cereals and that people in some new Member States are more concerned than the EU average.1 The European citizens have good reasons to be concerned. Over 47% of the fresh food tested for residues contains at least one pesticide and 5% of these samples exceed the legal limit. 2,7% of processed baby food is contaminated above the legal limit and some pesticides/commodity combinations exceed the acute risk limits for children. This means that acute health risks cannot be excluded.

These results are presented in the latest report on pesticide residues in products of plant origin,2 which has just been released by the European Commission. For the first time the annual report includes data from six of the eight new Central and Eastern European (CEE) Member States (Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). The report also shows that there is a steady increase in the percentage of samples with detected residues and in the percentage of samples with multiple residues in the EU since 1999.

"There is a high scientific uncertainty about health effects of multiple pesticide exposure. Current pesticide policy fails to address this issue in an appropriate way just as well as the special sensitivity of vulnerable groups such as children.3 The Commission acknowledged in several occasions that there is serious and growing concern about the damage caused by pesticides. Nevertheless current European policy does not strive towards the minimisation of pesticide residues in food" said Susanne Smolka, PAN Germany Coordinator.

The Czech data shows one of the highest levels of multiple residues in the EU (38%). The monitoring results from CEE countries indicate high levels of residues for example in lettuce, leek and head cabbage, in Slovenian apples, Hungarian tomatoes and Polish rye. Altogether the residue situation in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland is comparable to the Western European countries, although, and that are good news, all CEE results show a lower percentage of exceedances.

It must be taken into account that most CEE monitoring is characterised by limitations in analytical capabilities of the laboratories, small numbers of samples and sought pesticides, and that public availability of detailed information, especially in the internet is not always the standard. Estonia has not been sent a report to the EU Commission and Latvia provided a summary of the monitoring results, but no detailed data. The reason for insufficient monitoring is mainly lack of finances but the governments are responsible for providing safe food. Therefore further effort is necessary to build up an appropriate and a transparent system of monitoring.

For more information contact:
Susanne Smolka, PAN Germany Coordinator, susanne.smolka(at)pan-germany.org, Tel: +49(0)40-

1 European Commission (2006): Special Eurobarometer No. 238, 2006, p.22; http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_238_en.pdf
2 European Commission (2006): Monitoring of Pesticide Residues in Products of Plant Origin in the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, 2004, SEC(2006) 1416, http://ec.europa.eu/food/fvo/specialreports/pesticides_index_en.htm
3 PAN Germany (2006): The Myth of Safe Fruit and Vegetables, Briefing, http://www.pan-germany.org/info/osteuropa.htm

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