Over 66,000 tonnes of pesticides and herbicides are used by farmers in France every year, according to La Spéciale d'Envoyé programme, broadcast this week on television channel France 2. Such pesticides remain on the skin of fruits and vegetables, it said, and may then end up on our plates.
Over 72% of non-organic fruits, and 41% of non-organic vegetables contain traces of pesticides by the time they reach our dining tables, according to a report from NGO Générations Futures.
The least-contaminated fruits were found to be the avocado (23% residue), kiwi (27%), and plum (34%). In contrast, grapes, clementines, cherries, grapefruits, strawberries, peaches and oranges were all found to have 80% pesticide residue.
Vegetables were less susceptible to contamination than fruit, the programme showed, as they often grow in the earth and are therefore less exposed to illnesses and other problems that might prompt the use of pesticides.
The least-contaminated vegetables were wheat, asparagus, tropical vegetables madeira and yam, and beetroot and cauliflower, all of which had less than 7% pesticide residue. The most-contaminated were celery, fresh herbs, endives, lettuce, and bell peppers.
Connexionfrance.com quoted François Veillerette, president of Générations Futures, as saying: “[The amount of pesticides] will depend on the level of industrialisation, the [fruit or vegetable] skin, and the type of tree or plant that it is growing on.”