Greenpeace urges action after toxic produce found

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - Page 3

About 15 percent of the fruit and vegetables from traditional markets tested in a survey contained pesticide residue levels exceeding legal standards or illegal pesticides, a report released by Greenpeace Taiwan yesterday showed.

The group said it collected 102 fruit and vegetable samples from 12 traditional markets across the nation and tested them for pesticides at a third-party independent laboratory between May and last month.

The test showed that half of the samples — 51 — contained a total of 44 types of pesticides, while 16 samples had excess levels of pesticides or contained ones banned by the Council of Agriculture (COA).

For example, one lettuce sample was found to contain about 14 times the permitted amount of the fungicide trifloxystrobin.

“We also tested a sponge gourd that had 10 times the amount of pesticide allowed, as well as a sweet pepper and a mustard leaf that each had seven types of pesticide residue on them,” said Hsieh Yi-hsuan (謝易軒), the organization’s agriculture and food safety project manager.

Twenty-five of the produce samples tested carried more then one type of pesticide and four contained pesticide levels listed as highly hazardous by the COA, some of which had as much as 11 times the legal concentration, she added.

Greenpeace said that among the 44 pesticides found in the produce were three types of toxic pesticides banned by the EU: carbofuran, methamidophos and tolfenpyrad.

“Statistics show that about 75 percent of Taiwanese habitually buy their fruit and vegetables at traditional markets so if the COA does not do its duty by strictly controlling pesticide use, the public may be ingesting dangerous pesticides on a daily basis,” Hsieh said.

Hsieh said these pesticides could damage the nervous system or impair the function of the endocrine system, and could even increase the risk of getting cancer.

The group urged COA to prioritize banning pesticides already prohibited in the EU and tightening its pesticide control policies.