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Latest Pesticide Data: Bad News For Toddlers
(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2004)
New research from the United Kingdom reveals continuing problems with high levels of pesticide residues on fruits popular with children, including apples, pears and grapes. The report was released by the Pesticides Safety Directorate of the UK government on June 10, 2004.

The research showed that a quarter of apples and pears tested contained more than one pesticide residue, and some contained up to six different types of pesticide, some above the maximum residue levels (MRLs), which are the legal limits on the level of residue permitted when food is put into circulation in the UK. Results from the UK’s National School Fruit Scheme, also out this month, showed similar results. Dicofol, a possible carcinogen and suspected `gender-bending' chemical, was found above legal levels in two Brazilian apple samples from the school fruit scheme. A toxic organophosphate, dimethoate, was found above legal levels in two retail apple samples.

Nearly a third of grapes had multiple pesticide residues, with levels of methomyl, an acutely toxic, suspected hormone disrupter, above legal limits. Test results for grapes released last week also found two pesticides at levels that could cause possible health effects such as nausea, headaches, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Raspberry samples were found to contain up to six different pesticides, including bifenthrin, a suspected hormone disrupter.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the UK Government to do more to support the nation’s farmers and growers in finding alternatives to hazardous chemical pesticides and to eliminate pesticide residues in food as quickly as possible.

Friends of the Earth Pesticides Campaigner Liz Wright stated, "At a time when the Government is trying to get everyone to eat more fruit and vegetables, it should be doing more to ensure that healthy food does not contain hidden extras. Babies and young children need extra protection from pesticide residues. If baby food can be residue free, there is no reason why all fruit and vegetables can't be, particularly those which are popular with children."

Other findings from the report include:

TAKE ACTION: Children face greater risk from pesticide residues on food than adults due to their developing organ systems. Work to protect children by getting local and organic foods into your local schools. Berkeley (CA) Unified School District has taken a major step in providing children with sustainable and organic food in its cafeterias. The food policy, established in 1999, is part of an overall mission to "improve the health of the entire community by teaching students and families ways to establish and maintain life-long healthy eating habits." To find out how your school can pass a similar policy, start a school garden, and/or get involved in a local farm to school program, contact Beyond Pesticides.