Pesticides are a serious threat to food and agricultural systems. In the field, they kill not only pests, but also pollinators such as bees, and harm the quality of soils. They threaten the health of farmers and agricultural workers. But their toxic imprint will spiral in the landscape – as pesticides can be found in food, water and air. They find their way into our bodies and our living environment.
Pesticide Checkup is an interesting initiative started earlier this year has now produced some interesting insights regarding the way pesticide influence our environments and more importantly – the human body.
Between May and August 2022, 300 people from across 10 European countries participated in the citizen science project to get their hair tested for pesticide residues. The independent laboratory EXPOZOM analysed the samples for the presence of 30 different pesticides.
The key findings from the report show that:
• Nearly every third person (29%) had residues of at least one pesticide in their hair. 25 out of the 30 sampled substances were detected.
• Farmers, farm workers and people living in rural areas usually had higher concentrations of pesticides in their hair.
• The top 3 pesticides detected were: the herbicide Prosulfocarb, the fungicide Tebuconazol and the insecticide Acetamiprid.
However, the results are not representative of the overall EU population due to under-sampling, the finding shows a trend and is consistent with empirical studies on the topic. Read the full report here.
Back in May 2020, the grassroots union published the Farm to Fork Strategy – a statement of intent for transforming food systems.
One of the goals of the strategy is to reduce the composition of pesticides by 50% by 2030. However, this goal is not legally bound to national governments and agrochemical lobbies.
The EU is currently planning its pesticide regulations, but there is a risk of less ambitious outcomes than European citizens would like. According to Angeliki Lyssimachou,
Senior Science Policy Officer at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), “Surveys like the Pesticide-CheckUp show that EU-wide measures to reduce exposure to toxic pesticides are urgently needed to safeguard the health of vulnerable groups, such as farmers and residents of agricultural areas. European governments and the Commission must put health first and move towards an agricultural model that does not depend on pesticides or other harmful chemicals”.
Find out more: GoodFood-GoodFarming