By Patricio Eleisegui
In May of this year, by legal request, documents from the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA) were released detailing operations in which consignments of fruits and vegetables fumigated with up to 22 pesticides were found, which were the sale in the central markets of Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata and La Plata.
Now, a new study carried out by scientists from the University of La Plata (UNLP), at the request of the Chair of Food Sovereignty of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), shows that 6 out of 10 fruits and vegetables from Buenos Aires shops contain at least one pesticide, and in some cases the presence of up to three agrochemicals was found in the same article.And an alarming fact:46% of the products that tested positive for some type of pesticide also exhibited residues of agrochemicals that are not authorized for use on fruits or vegetables.
Both documents releasedPatricio Eleisegui, journalist and author of the bookPoisoned, whose article says:
The result of the study was overwhelming: 6 out of 10 fruits and vegetables evaluated tested positive for at least one pesticide.Y In some of the varieties analyzed, the presence of up to three agrochemicals was found in the same article.
In 85 samples of carrots, oranges, lettuce, tomato and bell pepper, the most detected pesticides corresponded to the insecticide chlorpyrifos, the fungicide epoxiconazole, and the insecticides and acaricides fipronil and permethrin, respectively.
Regarding the elements most contaminated with these poisons, the experience revealed that "carrots are the food with the highest total load of pesticides, followed by orange and lastly lettuce".
“Of all the pesticides evaluated, the most frequently detected was chlorpyrifos (15.3%) followed by epoxiconazole and fipronil (14.1%) and permethrin (12.9%). The highest quantified concentration was 450 micrograms / kilo for l-cyhalothrin in a carrot sample, for which it is not regulated, for this food, 3 excesses of MRLs - maximum residue limits - were also detected for the compound azoxystrobin. Tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, acetochlor and chlorpyrifos were found as the most problematic pesticides in bell peppers, as well as in oranges the pyrethroid cypermethrin with 205 micrograms / kilo and tomato with 89 micrograms / kilo ”, states the document in which the UNLP overturned the conclusions of the monitoring.
A fact that contributes more drama to these results is that 46% of the products that tested positive for some type of pesticide also exhibited agrochemical residues that are not authorized for use in fruits or vegetables.
“In the analyzed samples, banned pesticides such as endosulfan, parathion or persistent organochlorine pesticides of the DDT family have been detected. In the latter case, it is proposed that its presence is due to translocation processes from the soil, due to the persistence of these compounds in the soil as a consequence of their use and persistence in the past ”, adds the aforementioned text.
The agrochemicals found were divided as follows, with and without the inclusion of organochlorines (OCI):
At the time of delving into the aspects addressed in this work, Damián Marino, CONICET specialist and member of the team that carried out the research, pointed out that the experience only shows that, “for years, pesticides stopped being a problem only of the field to become a serious complication for all ”.
“Outside of the pesticides located, what is clear is the lack of control, the absence of any effective regulation. This is evident when the enormous number of fruits and vegetables that tested positive for compounds that are not enabled for use in those crops are analyzed. What is worrying are the amounts of pesticides that we incorporate into our body every time we make a salad, ”he explained.
Miryam Gorban, holder of the Chair of Food Sovereignty of the UBA, explained to the person who writes here that the work was based on fruits and vegetables acquired in different businesses in the City of Buenos Aires. And he emphasized that, rather than generating mere alarm, the disclosure of these results "must encourage a change in purchasing habits."
"Instead of creating panic, this should serve to make everyone aware that we are facing a generalized problem of contamination, which enters our homes through the daily supply," he said.
To later add: “Once this is known, it remains to recommend that people exercise responsible consumption. Since you cannot avoid buying these fruits and vegetables, unless fresh merchandise is required and everything is subjected to an intense wash. The ideal is to buy from those suppliers that reveal how the products they offer have been grown, "he advised.
The results of this UNLP investigation echo what was stated at the end of April by this journalist. On that occasion, different internal documents of the National Service for Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA), obtained by the environmental NGO Nature of Rights, after a judicial summons, revealed that the State found consignments of fruits and vegetables with residues of up to 22 pesticides between the years 2011 and 2016.
And that this merchandise, made up mainly of varieties of pear, celery, mandarin, apple, strawberry and carrot, was for sale during the period in question in the central markets of Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata and La Plata. Since the details of said documentation were exposed until today, SENASA has avoided ruling on the origin and final destination of these products contaminated with agro-poisons.