"Spain is the country where most pesticides are used, with 78,000 tonnes a year," denounced the person responsible for the campaign 'Hogar sin tóxicos' of this foundation, Carlos de Prada, who cites Eurostat data collected in his report.
He also mentions a 2014 report from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), which confirmed that up to 64 percent of mandarins, 60.5 percent of oranges or 57.6 percent of pears contained several pesticides in a single piece.
The problem, according to this expert, is that many of the substances used in pesticides remain in the plants and their fruits, and when consumed, these may alter the normal functioning of the hormonal system; that is, they act as endocrine disruptors.
In fact, De Prada has warned that there are scientific studies that associate the presence of contaminating substances with an increased risk of hormone-dependent cancer, such as breast, prostate or testicular cancer, cardiovascular diseases or congenital genital malformations in children.
Moreover, effects on the development of the central nervous system have also been detected, and these may cause memory or learning problems. In fact, a report by the Endocrine Society estimated an annual loss of 13 million IQ points in the annual population from exposure to endocrine disruptors, which "are not only present in pesticides."
The "cocktail effect" is not taken into account
Also, the expert criticises that the regulation of the risks of these chemicals don't take into account the "cocktail effect" and only focus on the risk of exposure to a particular pesticide at a given time.
"We are never exposed to a single pesticide in isolation, but to the ones present in pears, apples and any fruit or vegetable that we eat, where there may be several different pesticides, and the risk of that joint exposure has not been evaluated and may be much higher than that caused by isolated substances," he warned.
Similarly, the study also raises "very serious" doubts about the reliability of the maximum residue limits that have been established and about the use of "obsolete systems that the industry benefits from."
"There is a perception of everything being under control and it being fully safe to eat these products, but there is actually a huge uncertainty about the risks, and the population doesn't know that," he criticised.
For this reason, and given the "inaction" of the European Commission, the Foundation is asking the Government to take measures, as other countries are already doing, to reduce the use of these chemicals in crops. In fact, according to De Prada, "there are now more pests than before."
Thus, they are proposing the enforcement of a national plan with a binding nature to reduce the use of pesticides by 30 percent every five years, while promoting other types of non-chemical methods for pest control and giving a greater boost to organic farming.