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Black list: Greenpeace evaluates agrotoxins

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According to Greenpeace, agriculture in Europe is still using too many dangerous pesticides. The environmental protection organization has now published a list of 209 active ingredients that are especially harmful to humans and the environment. Greenpeace warns that the chemicals permitted in the production of food can cause, among other things, cancer, affect fertility and have a neurotoxic impact.

For the Black List of Pesticides, an independent pesticide expert examined on behalf of Greenpeace all the 520 plant protection products that are permitted in the EU. “More than a third of the pesticides used in Europe should be banned. The use of these pesticides in the production of fruit, vegetables and cereals is a danger to our health and the environment,“ is how Christiane Huxdorff, an expert in agriculture at  Greenpeace, sums up the results of the study. Greenpeace is calling on the German federal government to advocate an EU-wide ban on the most dangerous pesticides.

The input of pesticides in conventional agriculture is rising continuously. The study states that apple plantations are sprayed about 22 times in a season, often with several poisons at the same time. Many of these inputs have undesirable side-effects: for example,  they don't only kill weeds but also harm acquatic organisms, useful organisms in the soil, bees and humans. This Greenpeace study evaluates pesticides for their human toxicity (danger to health), danger to the environment, endocrine (hormone) characteristics and their behavior in the environment. Organic agriculture has operated for ages without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, but in Germany only six percent of the food market is organic.

Still chemical cocktails in fruit and vegetables

209 active ingredients come off especially badly in the Greenpeace study: the neonicotinoides – harmful to bees – are there on the list together with the controversial herbicide glyphosate. The study also lists, for example, the highly toxic insecticide abamectin and the two chronically toxic fungicides boscalid and cyprodinil. According to the food monitoring authorities in Baden-Württemberg in Germany,  in 2015 they were found in 26 percent of all samples of fresh fruit.

However, state food monitoring authorities regularly point to threshold values for pesticides that are not exceeded. The maxima for individual plant protection inputs are now mostly adhered to. There is, however, a trend to multiple contamination with cocktails of pesticides in some fruit and vegetable varieties. From the toxicological point of view, these are especially worrying.


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