Traces of pesticides are contained in almost half of the food Europeans eat, according to an annual report issued this week by the European Union's food safety watchdog. Researchers found pesticides in 46.7 percent of the samples. While this may sound like a lot, only 2.8 percent exceeded maximum residue levels permitted under EU law. Some environmental NGOs are challenging EFSA's assessment of the pesticide situation.
"They've chosen this upbeat message for the whole narrative," Paul Johnston, head of the science unit at Greenpeace, told DW. "But what this means is that effectively everybody is being exposed to pesticides through their foods. The fact is that there are unnatural substances in our food that don't actually need to be there." He says the annual monitoring reports are being used to give false reassurance to consumers, pretending that more is known about the potential effects than actually is. Though we may know how much pesticide residue there is, we don't know how the pesticides are affecting us - particularly if they interact with other pesticides. We are all exposed to a cocktail of pesticides, rather than to single substances, and the toxicology of mixtures remains poorly understood,"