In Italy they still arrive on the plate too many products with traces of pesticides, including several that have not been on the market for at least two years. This is what emerged from the latest report “Stop Pesiticides on your plate” by Legambiente in collaboration with Alce Nero.
The Legambiente study
According to the latest research conducted by Legambiente in collaboration with Alce Neroabout 44% of the fruit and of vegetables that arrives on Italian tables, and produced in Italy contains traces of pesticides. The analysis carried out on samples revealed a significant increase in the presence of pesticides in foods compared to last year: foods with pesticides they are 44%, compared to 36% in 2021. Only 55% of the samples are without pesticides.
The analysis study was performed on 4,313 samples of foodsboth of plant and animal origin. The percentage of irregular samples, therefore with percentages of pesticides beyond the limits permitted by law, ie 1%, made it possible to detect that only 54.8% of the total samples resulted clean, therefore without pesticides.
He commented on the current agronomic situation Angelo Gentili, agriculture manager of Legambiente: “From the analysis of the data collected, the need to embark on the path of agroecology with even more determination clearly emerges, implementing the provisions of the European directives with conviction and without hesitation Farm to fork e Biodiversity 2030. With the approval of the organic law – he explained – an important step forward has undoubtedly been made. Now, we need to move from theory to practice, so that that goal is not just a flag but a heritage for the entire sector.”
Pesticides: what are they?
The word pesticides is the translation of the English term pesticides. The more correct Italian term, however, is phytosanitary products, often also called pesticides, phytopharmaceuticals, agro-pharmaceuticals. Pesticides are microorganisms or chemical substances (natural and industrially produced) used in agriculture to eliminate everything that damages the cropssuch as animal or vegetable parasites, or insects that transmit various diseases to plants.
Pesticides or plant protection products are divided into several categories depending on the organism against which they are used, for example:
- insecticides (they fight insects harmful to agricultural crops, but also insects that are simply annoying or carriers (vehicles) of diseases for humans or pets)
- fungicides (counteract diseases and alterations produced by mushrooms)
- herbicides o herbicides (used to destroy weeds, or weeds)
- phytoregulator (vegetable hormones that regulate crop growth), etc…
It should be noted that fertilizers are not pesticides, but are substances used in the agricultural field to nourish the land to be cultivated, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which are essential for the growth of crops.
Vegetables and foods most at risk
Between the fruit and vegetables, the former is undoubtedly the type of food most affected by this phenomenon. “Over 70.3% of samples contains one or more residues. Of note are table grapes (88.3%), pears (91.6%) and peppers (60.6%). Among processed foods, wine and whole grains are those with the highest percentages of permitted residues, accounting for approximately 61.8% and 77.7% respectively”, report the authors of the Legambiente report..
Furthermore, Legambiente has found that among the most present pesticides there are still pesticides revoked dal market already in 2020. Products such as Thiaclopridfound in 2 honey samples, in 1 peach and 1 apple, or traces of Imidacloprid, found in 34 samples including apricots, oranges, bananas, artichokes, tangerines, peppers, grapes and tomatoes.
The most common pesticides
Among the most traced pesticides, Acetamiprid, Boscalid, Fludioxonil, Azoxystrobin, Tubeconazole and Fluopyram. DDT residues in 2 animal-derived samples (horse and bovine adipose tissue) also cause concern. In line with the trend of past years, fruit is confirmed as the most affected category: more than 70.3% of the samples contain one or more residues. With reference to vegetables, the picture is better: 65.5% of the samples analyzed are without residues.
Our country – he declared George Zampettidirector general of Legambiente – is proving to be a virtuous example for the whole of Europe in terms of reducing the use of pesticides, thanks above all to the increasing number of companies choosing organic farming, certainly not to significant national policies in this sense. To confirm this, just think of the achievement of the 17.4% share of UAA conducted with organic methods. A more decisive commitment is therefore needed, considering the European Union’s request to achieve a 62% cut in the use of pesticides by 2030.
Pesticides: damage to health
Contact with pesticides can be of a professional nature, as occurs for workers involved in production, transport and storage processes, or linked to their employment as occurs with farmers, or through the consumption of food containing pesticides. The residues present, for example, in fruit and vegetables, being very small quantities, do not give risks of immediate poisoning after the consumption of a single food, but prolonged ingestion over time could have effects on health. In humans, exposure to toxic levels of some insecticides can cause effects on the central nervous system, liver, and fertility.