|Photographer: Klaus Höpfner|
The Guardian's Damian Carrington reported yesterday (17 July, '14) that analysis of government data shows that some 60% of bread sold in the UK tests positive for pesticide residue, and that 25% of that tests positive for more than one pesticide.
The main offender? Glyphosate (also known as Round-Up). Rounding out the top three? Chlormequat, a plant growth regulator, and malathion, an organophosphate insecticide.
Interestingly, bread is much more likely to test positive for pesticide residue than other foods--which test positive "only" 40% of the time. Carrington reports:
The official tests are carried out by the government’s expert committee on pesticide residues in food (Prif) and the levels found were below “maximum residue level” (MRL) limits. The Prif experts concluded: “We do not expect these residues to have an effect on health.”
But environmental campaigners point out that these residues only indicate that pesticides were applied properly at source. But Nick Mole, at Pesticide Action Network UK (Pan UK) and an author of the new report on the government figures, points out that “[These residues] are nothing to do with people’s health whatsoever. There is the possibility of harm from the repeated ingestion of low doses of pesticides and no one has done research on the impact of the cocktails of pesticides we are all exposed to. We are all being experimented on without our consent.”
There doesn't seem to be any solid certainty about the effects of chemical residues in our food or bodies. But in Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things
|Stock image from Vintage Canada|
Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie point out that each of us in the developed world are carrying a "toxic load" of over 250 different chemical residues, and that we have no real idea of how our bodies react to the doses of each--let alone what happens in combination.
We can reduce our exposure to pesticides by buying and eating organic food, of course. Regardless of the controversy over whether organic food is more nutritious, we do know that residues are certainly lower (although possibly not non-existent) on organics. There are so many sources of contamination in our environment--from air, foam in furniture, to plastic microbeads in our water--it's nice to know we can actually do something about one source. And it can taste pretty good, too.