Wed, Jan 23, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Wellcome leads survey on food pesticide control

FOOD CHECKS:Wellcome and Matsusei led six major retailers with their daily tests for pesticide residues, but Wellcome had the edge with its pesticide phase-out plan

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wellcome Supermarket topped a survey of six major retailers on food pesticide control, while Pxmart ranked at the bottom, Greenpeace Taiwan said yesterday.

Greenpeace Taiwan’s agriculture project manager Tsai Szu-ting (蔡絲婷) said the survey covered six major supermarket and hypermarket chains and rated them based on various criteria, including current restrictions, methods used to monitor and examine pesticide residue, pesticide phase-out plans, green products and information disclosure.

Wellcome Supermarket topped the survey and was viewed as being the friendliest to consumers with its comprehensive effort to reduce pesticide residue on fruit and vegetables. It was followed, in descending order, by Matsusei Supermarket, A.mart, RT-mart, Carrefour Taiwan and Pxmart, the group said.

Tsai said although all six chains have agreed to eliminate fruit and vegetables that use any of the 24 types of highly hazardous pesticides proclaimed by the Council of Agriculture in 2009, Wellcome Supermarket has promised to go the extra mile by eliminating the use of pesticides that are moderately hazardous, interfere with normal reproduction or are harmful to bees — covering a total of 155 types of pesticides — by 2015.

Both Wellcome Supermarket and Matsusei Supermarket conduct daily tests of pesticide residue on fruit and vegetables, Tsai said, adding that Matsusei also publishes the results of the tests on its Web site, as well as provide a clear source traceability on product labels.

However, Matsusei scored lower because it did not specify future plans for improving pesticide control, Tsai said.

As for Pxmart, Tsai said it only agreed to ban the use of 24 types of highly hazardous pesticides and lacked source traceability.

In response to the survey, Carrefour Taiwan said it had negotiated many times with farmers after Greenpeace released the results of its survey last year and the farmers had promised to conform with the Council of Agriculture’s regulations on pesticide use.

As for tightening restrictions on the use of pesticides, Carrefour said the council and academics should come up with more practical solutions to help farmers.

Meanwhile, Pxmart said the fruit and vegetables that it sells have passed examinations by government agencies, and that it did the best it could in answering Greenpeace’s questionnaire.

Tsai said that while the council has classified 24 types of pesticides as highly hazardous, it has not banned them from agricultural use.

As such, some of them are still widely used in Taiwanese farms, while the EU has already banned 11 of the 24 pesticides from use in farms, Tsai said.

Greenpeace said it would continue to conduct sample tests for pesticides residues at the supermarkets this year, to follow up on their promises to enforce tighter controls.

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