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Argentina: 60% of the fruit & veg in Buenos Aires has agrochemicals

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-05-15  Views: 1
Core Tip: For the first time, an agency of the national State certifies what is an open secret between producers and environmentalists.
For the first time, an agency of the national State certifies what is an open secret between producers and environmentalists. According to official reports, 60% of the food that arrives in the Central Market of Buenos Aires has agrochemical residues. "We suspect that many markets in the country have these toxic levels," stated the journalist who brought the report to light.

The data is official. It is part of a detailed survey that Senasa, the state sanitary body in charge of the control and certification of products and by-products of animal and plant origin, carried out between 2011 and 2013 in the central markets of Buenos Aires, La Plata, and Mar del Plata. The controls performed detected the presence of presence of agrochemical residues in 63% of the fruits, vegetables, and leafy vegetables studied.

The details of the report are scary. Almost 98% of the pears tested positive for 20 varieties of insecticides and fungicides. 93% of the celery samples had residues of 16 agrochemicals. 91% of the mandarins marketed contained 15 toxicants. And in 85% of the apples had 22 types of chemicals, the maximum value found.

Only 4 varieties of the 27 fruits, vegetables and similar products tested had zero contaminants: onion, sweet potatoes, yerba mate and almonds. "It is the first official pronouncement that the Argentine State has made regarding the contamination of the foods we consume. We are literally poisoning ourselves," said journalist Patricio Eleisegui, who brought to light the revealing report.

Eleisagui has been working for many years on environmental issues related to agrochemicals. He wrote the book "Poisoned", in which he detailed the most harmful effects of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. "We are facing a chemical bomb that is quietly exterminating us," he concluded at the end of his investigation.

Last week, the Naturaleza de Derechos NGO achieved what seemed impossible, that the Senasa presented the results of the control operations it had carried out in the main central markets of the country. They achieved this after an arduous legal battle, as the Agency authorities refused to provide the information voluntarily.

The NGO contacted Eleisagui to send him the official forms and documents. "The results reveal that the Argentine state knows that practically all of the fruits and vegetables that are commercialized in the country are contaminated with agrochemicals," the journalist said.

The documents also contain data from 2013 to 2016, albeit with more limited information. The second sampling, for example, only reported the food that surpassed the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) established by the current regulations in Argentina.

The results, however, were equally alarming. 50% of the pepper samples had toxic concentrations that violated legal guidelines. 41.6% of the strawberries analyzed between 2014 and 2016 had contamination levels that surpassed the MRLs and 17 residues from different agrochemicals.

"The pesticides that appear in apples are prohibited in Europe because they extinguished the bees. A pesticide that is known as DDT and that has been banned in Argentina since 1990 was detected in the arugula. Everything is scandalous," Eleisagui told Rosarioplus.com

What Senasa isn't telling us, the journalist said, is what happened with all that contaminated merchandise, if it was seized or if it was released for sale. We don't even know if those fruits and vegetables were used by companies as raw material for their products.

"Coca Cola, for example, should tell us what type of fruit it's using in its flavored waters. This opens a big can of worms. The amount of chemicals that have been found is dramatic," he added indignantly.

The report is valuable as it takes the discussion to the urban areas, which have the false belief that they are unaffected by the problem. "This information appeals to consumers. We have to be aware that what we buy in the grocery stores comes with these chemicals. People have to evaluate other shopping alternatives, for example organic gardens."

In the 1990s, Argentina used 5 million liters of agrochemicals per year. In 2016, the number climbed to 300 million. "We are talking about two decades of poisoning," Eleisagui said.
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