Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Tests find more pesticides on fruit

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Greenpeace Taiwan agriculture project manager Tsai Szu-ting stands next to a display of fruit and vegetables as she presents a slide show in Taipei yesterday. The group said it had found toxic pesticide residues on more than half the samples it tested from fresh produce on sale at supermarkets and wholesalers.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

A second round of tests on fruit and vegetables sold at six of the nation’s main supermarkets and wholesale chains showed that hazardous pesticide residues were found on 20 of the 36 products tested, Greenpeace Taiwan said yesterday.

The organization released its first report on pesticides in February, in which it revealed that 74 percent of fruit and vegetables examined in December contained 36 types of pesticide residue, with one fruit product containing residues of nine types of pesticide.

This time the survey found residues of a pesticide with reproduction toxicity — carbendazim, which may cause harm to fetuses — on items from all six of the chains surveyed, the organization said in its report.

It added that procymidone, azoxystrobin and dimethomorph, which can cause infertility, were found on items from one of the wholesale chains.

Greenpeace Taiwan’s agriculture project manager Tsai Szu-ting (蔡絲婷) said eight of the fruit products tested contained more than three types of pesticide residues, with oranges sold at Pxmart wholesalers containing eight types, kumquats sold at Matsusei supermarkets containing six types and strawberries sold at Pxmart wholesalers containing five types of residue.

Moreover, among the eight types of pesticide found in oranges, flucythrinate and carbofuran were considered as highly hazardous by the WHO, Tsai said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has in 2009 banned carbofuran residues on food sold in the US.

“The organization has communicated with the supermarkets after announcing the first report in Feburary, but the stores only chose to pull the problem items off the shelves, without taking other positive actions to change the situation and they cannot protect consumers from health problems,” Tsai said.

Although the doses of pesticide residues found on the samples were not high, the organization is concerned about the combination effect — which it compared to mixing cocktails — of several pesticides on human health, Tsai said.

A mixture of several pesticides could be even more hazardous than only a single type of toxic agent, Tsai said.

The organization said pulling the tainted products off the shelves was not a responsible solution to resolve the problem, and urged supermarkets and wholesale stores to promise to consumers that they would enforce a strict ban on pesticides listed as highly hazardous by the Council of Agriculture, as extremely hazardous and highly hazardous by the WHO, and also pesticides affecting reproduction or causing damage to bees’ pollination abilities.

Greenpeace Taiwan also suggested establishing tracing systems for fresh food products, to monitor and control the safety of foodstuffs for consumers.

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