European citizens continue to eat and drink the insect poison believed by scientists to cause damage to children’s brains.
By Nils Mulvad
This story is part of our series on chlorpyrifos. Previously we published:
- On your dinner plate and in your body: The most dangerous pesticide you’ve never heard of
- One study only paved way for chlorpyrifos
Data for the year 2016 from all member states sent to the food safety agency EFSA shows that out of 76,200 samples 3,371 contained chlorpyrifos and 839 chlorpyrifos-metyl. In total they accounted for 5,5 percent of all the samples.
The NGO Pesticide Action Network Europe has analyzed the same data and narrowed the analysis to only look at randomly sampled unprocessed plant based food products in EU. They found chlorpyrifos or chlorpyrifos-methyl in 6.2 percent of the 39,771 samples.
Compared to the year before, 2015, the percentage of contaminated food is pretty much the same.
EU also counts the number of samples with contamination over the Maximal Residue Limit (MRL). Chlorpyrifos residue over the official limit was found in 374 of the samples. However, environmental scientists believe that residue levels for chlorpyrifos should be zero.
The analysis from PAN Europe show chlorpyrifos was the most widely detected endocrine (hormone) disrupting pesticide in fruits and vegetables in Europe in 2016.
In the three Nordic countries, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the use of chlorpyrifos has been banned for years. The authorities nevertheless found chlorpyrifos in 516 samples in the last 3 years 2016-2018 (for Norway only from 2016 and 2017). This equals 3,6 percent of 14,445 food samples in the three countries.
In 42 cases the concentration was above the maximum residue level (MRL).
In rather few cases unsold food was withdrawn from the market. In even fewer cases it was stored and unsold and food was destroyed.
Philippe Grandjean, head of the Environmental Medicine Research Unit at the University of Southern Denmark, and adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health:
“Chlorpyrifos has been found to be harmful in several studies. The metabolites in urine samples from pregnant women have been measured. And when you look at how the child later performed at school age, you see that the more chlorpyrifos, the worse. If you have that kind of data, you have to use the precautionary principle.”
Photo: © Pxfuel
The Cross-border investigation on chlorpyrifos was initiated by Investigative Reporting Denmark and Danwatch, and made in collaboration with journalists from Knack in Belgium, Le Monde in France, Dagbladet in Norway, Newsweek in Poland, Oštro in Slovenia, El Confidential in Spain and The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting in the US. The investigation was supported by Journalismfund.eu.
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