A large part of the food we eat contains traces of several different chemical pesticides. This is shown by the British Soil Association and the Pesticide Action Network in a new report. When several chemical pesticides are used together, the combined effect on humans and the environment can be exacerbated.
In conventional agriculture, a mixture of chemicals is used to control weeds, pests and fungal infections. But the chemicals also spread to the earth, groundwater, lakes, seas and streams. And when the different substances are mixed and interact, they can aggravate each other's dangerous effects. This is what is called the cocktail effect.
"As many as 92 percent of the oranges, 87 percent of the pears and 64 percent of the apples in the samples had pesticide residues."
In order to highlight the risk of the cocktail effect, the Soil Association - the UK's equivalent KRAV - together with the interest group Pesticide Action Network, produced the report The Cocktail Effect. The report shows that over a third of all fruits and vegetables analyzed by the UK regulator contained residues of more than one chemical pesticide. As many as 92 percent of the oranges, 87 percent of the pears and 64 percent of the apples in the samples had pesticide residues.
"Chemical pesticides are one of the reasons why the world's insect species are declining."
Based on most scientific studies, the report also states that chemical pesticides are one of the reasons why the world's insect species are declining. Butterflies, bumblebees, bees and other pollinators are considered to be particularly threatened - a development that in the long run risks threatening the global food supply.
Chemical pesticides in Swedish groundwater sources.
The Swedish Food Safety Authority also finds pesticide residues on the food in its random checks. During Swedish sampling in 2016, chloropyriphos (which is not approved for use in Swedish agriculture) was found among 39 percent of all citrus fruits. In several studies, chlorpyrifos has been linked to an increased incidence of developmental disorders and the risk of lower IQ in children.
In addition, the Swedish environmental monitoring program finds residues of a number of different pesticides in our surface and groundwater every year. When the County Administrative Board in 2016 examined the Scanian groundwater sources from which the region draws its drinking water, pesticides were found in 22 of 27 groundwater sources. In some cases, the levels were so high that the water was judged to be unusable as drinking water.
Agriculture needs to reduce its dependence on chemical pesticides
Despite the growing knowledge about the negative effects that chemical pesticides can have when they are combined with each other, each substance is still assessed separately. To deal with the problem, you need to take into account the cocktail effect and take a holistic view of the amount of chemicals we are exposed to. In addition, we need to ensure that agriculture as a whole reduces its use of chemical pesticides.
Download the report here: The Cocktail Effect