In February 2020 Consumer NZ tested 16 locally grown fruit and vegetables, both organically and conventionally grown, for more than 200 pesticides. 16 pesticides were detected, 9 of which are banned in the EU. None of the organic produce they tested had pesticide residues and no residues were found on the conventionally grown broccoli, capsicum, carrots, flat mushrooms, garlic and green kiwifruit. For the full report, click here.
The Ministry of Primary Industries released their test results on pesticide levels on fruit and vegetable in April 2020 - you can read more about it in my blog here.
Part of the Consumer NZ testing focused on raisins and oats.
No residues were detected in the Ceres Organics Raisins and Sun Maid Natural California Raisins.
Seven residues were found in Cinderella Baking Raisins, though none were above the MRL (maximum residue levels).
In 2020 the EWG in America tested raisins and found that they are by far the dirtiest commodity on the market. If they were included in their Dirty Dozen, they would hit the number 1 spot. Read the EWG report here.
I asked Biosecurity NZ if all raisins are getting fumigated with Methyl Bromide when they are imported into NZ and was told that raisins have no specific biosecurity requirements and therefore any treatment (e.g fumigation) is not needed. Treatment would only be required if any pests were detected. The preferred treatment option would be heat treatment. Fumigation may be offered as treatment option to the importer, but it is unlikely it would be chosen as this is not a preferred option for edible products.
Below are the treatment options on stored products - referring to dried vegetables, dried fruit, grain, seed and nuts. You will notice that Methyl Bromide is the only treatment option against mites as well as the only option against insects on nuts.
Consumer NZ also tested 8 rolled oat samples for glyphosate (aka Roundup).
Glyphosate was not detected in the following 6 products:
Ceres Organics Rolled Oats Jumbo
Chantal Organics Jumbo Rolled Oats
Harraways Organic Rolled Oats
The Commonsense Pantry Organic Coarse Oats
Uncle Tobys Rolled Oats Traditional and Creamy
Countdown Australian Rolled Oats
The following 2 products contained glyphosate residues, with both testing above the MRL of 0.10mg/kg. Both had glyphosate levels approximately three times higher.
Harraways Oats Rolled Oats
Pams Rolled Oats
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
The Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand does not see it that way - they considered the levels of glyphosate found “indicated no food safety concern”.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto - which is now owned by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer.
Glyphosate is sprayed on the majority of wheat worldwide. In the late 1990's and beginning of the new millennium Monsanto developed genetically engineered Roundup ready soybeans, corn, cotton and canola - which enabled them to spray Roundup directly on the crops without killing them. This had a huge impact on the quantities of Roundup sold - with Roundup use increasing about 15-fold between 1994 and 2017. When we eat sprayed wheat, we ingest some of those chemicals.
Glyphosate is linked to an increased risk for cancer, liver disease, birth defects and celiac disease.
Bayer, which faced tens of thousands of claims linking the weedkiller to cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, continued to sell the product without a warning label. Now, the company has agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle its lawsuits and set aside funds for any future cases.
It is up to each one of us to choose the food we eat. It always pays to be informed and know what chemicals are used. Some people are not concerned about pesticide use. But for those of us who want to avoid too many chemicals on our plates - our best option is to choose local, organic and spray-free produce.
If you live in Auckland, you can also join the councils no-spray register to avoid glyposate being sprayed on your berm - very simple to do, you just need to fill out this online form.
If you don't live in Auckland, check with your local council.