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Progress in consumer protection
Maximum residue levels for pesticide residues are being lowered throughout Europe

07.06.2010, PAN Germany and Greenpeace

From Monday, 7th June 2010, more than one thousand maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in food will be tightened. After years of struggling with the competent authorities, this is an important step for better protection of consumers, as environmental organisations Pesticide Action Network (PAN Germany) and Greenpeace point out.

It was a long way. Since 2005 a regulation manages the harmonisation of EU MRLs for pesticides in food. PAN Germany and Greenpeace were able to prove that even by complying with these maximum levels, often an acute health risk, especially for children, can not be excluded. For example, grapes were allowed to contain 5 mg/kg of the reproduction damaging pesticide procymidone, even though the limit for the acceptable risk is exceeded 30 times. In the end, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) admitted that many MRLs give reason to health concerns. The reduction of these MRLs was therefore decided through a new regulation that will now be implemented. For procymidone only 0,02 instead of 5 mg/kg will be permitted as residue in produce.

Carina Weber, executive director of PAN Germany: "It is important that the correction of the MRLs took place. But it came years too late. Much fruit and vegetables with too high residues were already consumed."

Manfred Santen, pesticide expert from Greenpeace: "We appreciate the reduction of the MRLs, but also point out that this is only a first step in the right direction. The new regulation considers only a small part of the critical regulations." In a study from 2008 Greenpeace and Global 2000 proved that many of the MRLs defined by the European Commission have to be regarded as "not safe".

An additional problem are possible combination effects between active components of pesticides (cocktail effect), which up to now are not being considered when defining MRLs. Already in 2005 PAN Germany and Greenpeace called attention to this problem and demand that in the area of multiple exposure improvements with regard to consumer protection are made.

Further information:
Susanne Smolka, email: Susanne.Smolka(at)pan-germany.org,
http://www.pan-germany.org/download/myth_safe_fruit_and_vegetables.pdf,
http://www.pan-germany.org/download/pan_position_combi_effects_0702.pdf
Manfred Santen, email: manfred.santen(at)greenpeace.de,
http://www.greenpeace.de/fileadmin/gpd/user_upload/themen/umweltgifte/EU_Pestizidhoechstmengen270808_AT.pdf (Summary in English language);
http://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/232/mehrfachrueckstaende_von_pestiziden_in_lebensmitteln_zeit_fuer_massnahmen.pdf

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