Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for July 23, 2006


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More than 20% of fruit and vegetables sold in Canada show traces of pesticides

TORONTO (CP) – More than 20 per cent of federally-tested fresh fruit and vegetables sold in Canada show traces of pesticide contamination, according to the latest data, but manufacturers of the chemicals say the numbers prove there’s no need for consumer concern.

In a new analysis being released Monday, which is hotly disputed by environmentalists and some health experts, CropLife Canada says there’s no reason for consumer concern because in almost all cases, the pesticides found on food are well within the safety limits set by Health Canada.

Just a tiny fraction of foods tested by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were found to have contamination in violation of the maximum residue limits, with domestic fresh foods faring better than imports.

“People think that their food, unless they buy organic, is laced with pesticides” said Peter MacLeod, executive director of CropLife Canada, an industry association of pesticide manufacturers and distributors. “The truth is that they’re not.”

Federal inspections in 2004-05 turned up chemical residue in just over 22 per cent of both domestic and imported fresh produce, but at levels lower than the maximum residue limits, the analysis concludes.

Only 0.65 per cent of domestic and 1.1 per cent of imported fresh produce exceeded those levels.

What’s important, said MacLeod, is that even when residues were found, they were detected in minute quantities – in the range of parts per million or lower.

While environmentalists and health advocates agree the amounts are tiny, they say it’s impossible to be definitive in asserting they pose no health risk, especially when it comes to children.

Some experts worry that some chemicals are unsafe at any level, that many safety standards are out of date, and that Ottawa doesn’t test for all chemicals in use.

A key worry is how the toxic cocktail of pollutants interact.

“We are concerned about the health effects of low levels of many different chemicals in a person’s body” said Sarah Winterton of the group Environmental Defence.

“We really don’t know the health impacts of low-level exposure, particularly within the context of how many different chemicals we are exposed to every day.”

Results of a study released by Environmental Defence last month detected a wide array of toxins in the bodies of seven children and six adults from five families living in different parts of Canada.

The chemicals, among them pesticides, PCBs and flame retardants, are known carcinogens, hormone disrupters and neurotoxins.

The disturbing findings prompted Health Canada to announce it would study 5,000 people for signs of pollution-related toxins.

“Pesticides are among the most widely used chemicals in the world, and also among the most dangerous to human health” according to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

“They are a leading cause of poisonings here in Canada and have been estimated to account for thousands of deaths each year globally.”

But MacLeod said Canadians can be confident that Ottawa is closely monitoring residue levels and their health is being protected.

“Even if they hit that maximum residue limit level, there’s still a 100-fold safety factor in there before any health effect would ever be shown” MacLeod said.

“So (these are) very, very conservative numbers showing a high degree of safety for our food supply.”

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July 23, 2006 - Posted by | Health | ,

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