Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scientists'warning over 'Toxic Cocktail' of Pesticides on Fruit and Vegetables

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Scientists'warning over 'Toxic Cocktail' of Pesticides on Fruit and Vegetables

Article excerpt


THE cocktail of chemicals found on fresh fruit and vegetables is posing a threat to health, scientists warned today.

They fear that pesticides which are classed as safe may react with each other to create a dangerous toxic mix - and that the Government is failing to act to protect consumers.

Farmers must not use more than a certain level of each pesticide on their produce in a bid to protect health. However, many experts believe that it is not the individual pesticides which pose a threat but the combined effect which a mix of these pesticides could cause.

The official food watchdog is investigating what the combined effect of a number of pesticides might be. It is due to release its report in a fortnight.

But scientists who submitted evidence to the inquiry believe it will be a whitewash because very few experiments into pesticides and human health have been carried out.

Dr Vyvyan Howard, a toxicopathologist at Liverpool University who gave evidence to the Food Standards Agency, said that scientists know very little about how risky pesticides are.

But he added that just because no firm evidence has yet been found of a danger, the Government should not rule that they are safe.

"We do not have the techniques or manpower or money to perform the experiments needed to clear pesticides. Under normal circumstances, you would make precautionary measures to reduce exposure. If the Government decides that no precautions are needed, it will be a decision based on no understanding or research," he said.

In the past year the FSA has dismissed the notion that organic food is better for health than conventional food as well as telling the public that washing fresh produce is unnecessary.

However, the FSA faces a problem with its investigation, known as the Wigramp report, because there are thousands of variations of each pesticide on sale. Each would need to be mixed with every other pesticide to discover whether a toxic reaction was caused. This would require hundreds of thousands of experiments.

Friends of the Earth believe the Government is so far behind on its research that it cannot confidently claim that pesticides on foods are safe. …

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