pesticides on my plate, really?

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Sure, it is not so ! Let’s eat fruits and vegetables as much as we can, it’s still excellent for our health, especially if they’re fresh and local, raw or cooked anyway, but even canned or frozen. At least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, we can never repeat it enough, organic or traditional! Let’s try to understand the underside of this anxiety-provoking campaign.

Funders and distributors of these studies, NGOs Pesticide Action Network Europeand in France Future generations, are big pro-organic and anti-conventional agriculture lobbies. Because yes, lobbies are not only on the side of multinationals and proponents ofagriculture intense!

The lobbies are not only on the side of the multinationals and the proponents of intensive agriculture!

However, organic has been going through a crisis in France (and in Europe) since 2021, where its turnover began to fall after 20 years of uninterrupted growth (see my article about it), in particular due to the fact that consumers are returning to non-organic products which are less expensive. In addition, organic stores are being robbed of market share by supermarkets. The Carrefour chain alone, for example, alone already represents 1/4 of organic distribution in France and would like to further increase this figure by achieving more than 5 billion euros in turnover in this market segment… This largely explains the current publication of these studies, with shocking figures intended to hit the population… hoping to bring them back to organic stores.

Its proponents argue in particular that ” European consumers are increasingly exposed to pesticides which should have been withdrawn from the market since 2011 because of their dangerousness “. For these NGOs, the dramatic rise “quantities of contaminated fruits revealed by the brand study” total failure » from Europe to « implement its regulations and protect consumers “. They publish paintings of dishonors of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and which they recommend no longer consuming… unless they are organic.

All this gives rise to many controversies, each advancing arguments challenging the more or less scientific nature of the studies of the “pros” and “antis”, which the general public understands nothing about. So let’s get back to basics.

The detection threshold can now be much lower than the toxicity threshold

The root of the problem is the confusion, voluntarily maintained to scare, between the detection threshold and the toxicity. The residues of pesticides left on fruits and vegetables are obviously dangerous. This is why there is very strict legislation, both European and national. This legislation prohibits the sale of products whose residues exceed a certain threshold (maximum residue limits, MRLs), and force those who are more within the framework of the law to withdraw from the market. The same applies to drinking water (known as EDCHwater intended for human consumption).

The definition of toxicity thresholds obviously evolves over time according to scientific discoveries, but this process is relatively slow because there were many studies at the start to define these thresholds and legislation, with ample margin to deal with bad surprises (of the harmless dose type alone, but which could cause problems in the event of ingested cocktails of pesticides). Obviously, the legislation evolves too slowly for the detractors of pesticides who, in addition, constantly suspect the States of not carrying out sufficient checks to enforce their legislation.

But what are changing very quickly with technical progress are detection technologies. Every year, new machines are perfected that detect smaller amounts of substances. Currently, on many products, these detection thresholds manage to be 1,500 times smaller than the toxicity thresholds (see for example, at 13’18” the column by Pascal Perri). So, based on the detection thresholds, it is easy — albeit very dishonest — to spread in the press saying that the situation is getting worse every year.

In fact, what we observe is not necessarily more pollution, it is essentially the continuous scientific progress in detection techniques. Of course, this progress will continue; and the day when we manage to detect even a single molecule in an apple, we can thus declare that 100% of the apples are contaminated! We have therefore not finished seeing this type of catastrophist literature spring up each year in the spring.

What we observe (…) are essentially the continuous scientific progress of detection techniques

And besides, we will also be surprised to find that organic apples are also contaminated (because even if the arborist does not asparagus no pesticides, they are still subject to the winds and rain that will bring contaminants from the nearby highway or airport!). There are many traces of substances banned for decades in the ice of the North Pole and in the mountain lakes of the Pyrenees ! Without forgetting the residues of the radioactive tests of the 60s and the Chernobyl disaster. Or that residues of contraceptives, sleeping tablets and anxiolyticswidely consumed by the French, have great difficulty in being completely removed from waste in the purification plants of our big cities…

In an attempt to counter these anxiety-provoking campaigns, some, like the magnificent association of producers Tomorrow the Earthhighlight new labels, such as “Guaranteed without pesticide residues” or “Grown without synthetic pesticides”…

Another example: some claim that we find glyphosate in the body of 90% of French people, and emissions on mainstream television amused themselves by dosing it in the urine of well-known artists and sportsmen, producing quantified results without explaining the implications possible on health (because obviously, these are very low doses).

Since then, these high-profile claims have gone on for a long time. fire : the methods of dosage of the lab used have been widely disputed and other labs have made counter-analyzes that contradict these claims. In addition, we can also estimate that if traces of glyphosate are found in the urine, this is a rather good sign because it means that the body eliminates them naturally! And remember that the endless controversies surrounding the toxicity of glyphosate have never ceased. The International Center for Research on cancer (IARC) admittedly classified it as ” carcinogenic probable” in 2015, but a dozen equally respectable institutions gave radically different opinions !

This promotion of organic is failed, but it unfortunately causes a drop in the consumption of fruits and vegetables detrimental to health

The problem with this kind of campaign is that they have practically no impact on the turnover of organic stores (which have indirectly financed them), but on the other hand they cause a reduction in overall consumption. of fruits and vegetables. It is therefore clear that the actions of the lobbies, whether on one side or the other, unfortunately do not always go in the direction of the general interest… Becausethis consumption is absolutely essential to maintain good health. Because, as the campaign details, “ Eat-move “, which recommends eating at least five fruits and vegetables a day, “ they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and because their favorable effect on health has been demonstrated. They have a protective role in prevention diseases, such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases,obesitythe diabetes “. On this subject, one can read for example the excellent syntheses of Véronique Mokski, Vegetables and health, a truly amazing duoor of Mathilde Gerard Eating healthier can save more than 10 years of life expectancy.

So let’s not be intimidated, let’s not get discouraged, let’s resolutely eat fruits and vegetables from season in this spring of 2022, and let’s enjoy!

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