Pesticide Residues Found On Most Apples

<"">Pesticide residue was found on 98 percent of America’s apples, according to annual data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). No small issue, given that apples are the second most popular fruit in the United States, said the Wall Street Journal; bananas rank number one.

In most cases, the residues of some 48 different pesticides the agency found in its apple sampling were within levels federal agencies deem safe; however, the study has prompted advocacy group, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), to put apples raised “conventionally” at the top of its so-called “Dirty Dozen,” said the Journal. The Dirty Dozen lists fruit of vegetables that are the most chemically contaminated. The list, which is scheduled for release today, said the Journal is developed by the EWG based on data received from the USDA and other governmental agencies.

The agency found pesticide residues on over 90 percent of samples collected from six other produce groups including grapes, strawberries, cilantro, potatoes, oranges, and spinach. The Journal noted that prior to the testing, testing labs washed the collected produce under cold water for 10 seconds in an attempt to copy what consumers might do at home.

Last year, celery topped the list for highest pesticide levels. Banned in the US in 1972, DDT continues to turn up, with one degraded DDT type found by the agency in 65 percent of the catfish sampled for the survey as well as 24 percent of beef samples, said the Journal.

While the EWG does not advise consumers to stop eating fruits and vegetables, it suggests consumers avoid crops treated with insecticides, fungicides, and weed killers. “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure,” said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the EWG, quoted the Journal. Not surprisingly, industry, such as produce—including apple—farmers, have criticized the EWG’s annual list.

To help consumers, especially those who either can not or choose not to pay higher prices for organic fruits and vegetables, the EWG also publishes a list of conventionally-grown produce with the lowest pesticide exposures, its so-called “Clean 15” list, said the Journal. The Clean 15 will also be released today and includes at its top, onions, sweet corn, pineapples, and avocados.

In conventional produce production, chemicals are used to minimize blemishes and fungicides are used because fruit can be stored for months before ever reaching a consumer’s basket. According to its analysis, the EWG said 33 unapproved pesticides were detected on 44 percent of the cilantro samples, wrote the Journal, noting that tracking is challenging since different crops are screened each year.

Researchers have long believed that pesticides may cause Parkinson’s disease; experiments found that certain chemicals do, in fact, cause Parkinson’s-like symptoms in animals. The results of another study of 319 Parkinson’s patients and 200 nonParkinson’s-affected relatives found that people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are more than two times likelier to report pesticide exposure over people not diagnosed with the disease. In that study, certain insecticides and herbicides were responsible for increased risks of developing Parkinson’s.

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