(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2014) According to figures released by the British Government last week, over 60% of the county’s bread supply is tainted with pesticide residues. This is a shocking increase from numbers recorded in 2001, which found 28% of bread to be tainted. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Expert Committee on Pesticides Residues in Food (PRIF), 2,951 bread samples were tested.
According to a Pesticide Action Network UK report, a majority of the reoccurring pesticides were glyphosate and chlormequat. Glyphosate is an herbicide that can lead to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, genetic damage, cancer, reproductive issues, liver damage, and endocrine disruption as well environmental damage such as water contamination and harmful effects to amphibians. Unfortunately, very little research has been done on what the effects can be on humans.
Chlormequat, the second most-commonly found pesticide in British bread, is a plant growth regulator. A study conducted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) linked Chlormequat to developmental toxicity in animals. Very little research has been performed assessing the public health impact of this pesticide. In the U.S., it is only allowed for use on ornamental plants.
Pan UK spokesman Nick Mole said, “The presence of pesticide residues in our food and our subsequent ingestion of them is not something that anybody should welcome. We are in effect being poisoned against our will with the full knowledge of the growers, retailers and regulatory bodies that provide our food or are tasked with making sure it is safe.”
In March of this year, the UK government created an action plan that stipulates that member states should monitor the use of plant protection products containing substances of particular concern, and establish timetables and targets for the reduction of their use. Mr. Mole also suggested that Defra and the National Farmers’ Union had a “cozy” relationship. He stated that the UK’s pesticide action plan was weak and that pesticides should be used as a last resort, or not at all. Unfortunately they are currently the first choice when combating various issues such as pests, or “invasive” weed management. In fact, the government’s plan doesn’t contain timetables or methodologies for reducing the use of pesticides, which is growing.
Beyond Pesticides encourages consumers to purchase organic food, which is nurtured in a system of food production, handling and certification that rejects hazardous synthetic chemicals. In the U.S., organic certification is the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight, assuring consumers that toxic, synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health. This eliminates commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic–pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife.
To help explain the urgent need for a major shift to organic food consumption, Beyond Pesticides created the Eating with a Conscience database, which evaluates the impacts on the environment and farmworkers of the toxic chemicals allowed for use on major food crops, grown domestically and internationally. We have also expanded the message of necessity for organic practices in order to save our pollinators from horrible disorders and death as well as protecting our waters from being horrendously polluted.
Eating with a Conscience looks at the toxic chemicals that are allowed in the production of the food we eat and the environmental and public health effects resulting from their use.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides
Photo Source: The Daily Mail