NZ food samples still stacked with pesticide residues

Joint Media  Release:
Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand
Soil & Health Association of New  Zealand (Est. 1941), Publishers of ORGANIC NZ

——  ——

  • Pesticide residues found in 93% of targeted fruit and vege samples
  • Prohibited endosulfan again in cucumber samples
  • 11 out of 23 Pak choi samples with residues exceeding allowable levels
  • 26 different pesticides found among 24 grape samples
  • One grape sample containing 10 different pesticides
  • Organic fruit & vege free of synthetic pesticides

The Soil & Health Association and the  Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa NZ are calling for an attitude change in New Zealand’s food safety regulators following two very similar pesticide residue result reports in 3 months, and, despite evidence to the contrary, continued assurances that there is no food safety issue.

In the latest results food tested for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), from 152 samples, just 7% had no pesticide residues and there were 18 examples of residues above Maximum Residue Limits. Foods sampled were bananas, Bok or Pak choi, broccoli, cucumber, grapes, nectarines, oranges and wheat.

Among 22 of 24 grape samples there were 26 different chemicals found with one grape sample containing 10 different residues, another with 8, another 7, four with six, four with 5, six with four different residues, and only two each with 2 or 3 residues. Only 2 grape samples had no detectable residues.

All broccoli, nectarines and oranges contained pesticide residues. Organic produce is not expected to contain any synthetic pesticide residues; however the few grapes and other produce not containing residues were not identified by production method.

“NZFSA is privy to the science proving the danger of pesticides, especially in mixtures, but fails to acknowledge the risks to consumers,” said Soil & Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“Cancers, endocrine disruption, foetal abnormalities, neurological disease and many other conditions have been proven to be associated with pesticides as found in NZFSA residue surveys, yet in the name of trade, NZFSA, Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) continue to allow unnecessary chemical use and residues.”

“There are organic means of production that do not necessitate use of synthetic chemicals, that also provide more nutritious and safer food than the New Zealand food regulators are supporting. It is time for a new focus on food production and safety.”

“As in the last survey results, the banned chemical endosulfan has once again been found in cucumbers, and half of the Bok and Pak choi samples had illegal residue levels,” said Dr Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The countries of the European Union are all embarking on developing national pesticide reduction policies, and once again New Zealand is lagging behind.”

“Despite discussions with the Food Saftey Authority over a number of years, we have not been able to get them to even acknowledge that reducing residues in our food would be a good idea.”

“The EU is also working to find ways of addressing the problem of increased toxicity from exposure to multiple pesticides, yet NZFSA still will not acknowledge that such a thing exists, let alone the need to reduce exposures to multiple chemicals.”

“What will it take for the NZFSA to catch on to the problem? A 93% rate of contamination of our food supply with pesticides is totally unacceptable,” added Dr Watts.

“A fresh approach to food and community safety is needed in New Zealand,” said Mr Browning.

“With continued strong growth in organics internationally, it is time that organic production targets such as in Soil & Health’s Organic 2020 vision, were taken on for the well being of New Zealand’s environmental, economic and human health”

Latest test samples showing detectable residues.

Banana             1 of   24 with no detectable residue
Choi                   1 of  23
Broccoli             0 of  24
Cucumber         6 of  25
Grapes               2 of  24
Nectarines        0 of  4
Oranges            0 of  24
Wheat               1 of  6

REFERENCES from the 28 July joint media release. All remain pertinent.
(1) Results can be found on  the NZFSA website at… July 2010 results spreadsheet, season 1 [Excel 59 KB  or through…
(2) Chlorothalonil is a fungicide in the same family as hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and pentachlorophenol. In New Zealand, Chlorothalonil is applied to a variety of fruit, vegetables and ornamentals for the control of various diseases including among others powdery mildew, blackspot, botrytis, blight, and leaf spot. It is also used in antifouling paints and timber antisapstains.
(3) Lodovici, M. et al 1994,1997  or… These results indicate that the toxicity of low doses of pesticide mixtures present in food might be further reduced by eliminating diphenylamine and chlorothalonil.
Kortenkamp &  Backhaus. 2009.  State of the Art Report on Mixture Toxicity. Final  Report .Executive Summary. 22 December 2009.…. “Scientific research has repeatedly demonstrated that the effects of mixtures are considerably more pronounced than the effect of each of its individual components and that environmental pollution is from chemical mixtures and not from individual substances. This clearly underlines the need for dedicated regulatory considerations of the problem of chemical mixtures.”
(5)… and  or…

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