Pesticides found in 63% of UK bread



New data reveals that two-thirds of UK bread contains pesticide residues, with 25% of it showing more than one chemical, prompting campaigners to call for more research on the effects on human health.

The tests were carried out by the government’s expert committee on pesticide residues in food (Prif) and levels found were below the maximum residue level (MRL) limits, meaning it is unlikely the chemicals can affect human health and they were used lawfully on crops in the amount permitted.

However, since 2001, the percentage of bread containing pesticide residues has more than doubled, with a significant amount presenting more than one chemical residue.

Campaigners have said that more research into whether the chemicals are actually safe should be carried out, given the effects pesticides have on wildlife and the environment.

Nick Mole, from Pesticide Action Network UK (Pan), which published a report on the findings of the tests, said, “The presence of pesticide residues in our food and our subsequent ingestion of them is not something that anybody should welcome.

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.”

The most found chemical residue was glyphosate, an herbicide that can be dangerous for humans in high doses and is particularly harmful to pregnant women.

However, both the government and the Federation of Bakers have ensured that the levels found in bread do not put consumers at risk.

A representative for Federation of Bakers accused the report of scaremongering and vested interests and said, “The official Defra expert report, on which the Pan UK report is based, concludes quite clearly that there are no negative impacts on health from any of the residues detected on bread.”

A Defra spokeswoman added, “There is no human health risk from pesticide residues in bread. Levels of pesticide residue in food are minimal and we have strict testing methods in place to check this.”

The report follows a recent study that claimed organic foods contain up to 69% more antioxidants than conventionally grown food, while presenting lower levels of metals and chemicals.

Photo: Nic McPhee via flickr

Further reading:

Study: organic food has more antioxidants, less toxic metals and fewer pesticides

Sustainable spending: organic food and drink sales rose 2.8% in 2013

‘Overwhelming and clear evidence’ that neonicotinoids harm bees and food

Consumers have ‘immense power’ to make food sustainable

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013



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