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Labs find banned pesticides on fruit, vegetables: Greenpeace

Independent labs found pesticides on 43 of 58 types of supermarket produce, according to a Greenpeace report released yesterday. Of these 43, eleven contained illegal pesticides.

Greenpeace tested 58 fruits and vegetables from major Taiwan supermarket chains last December, as part of its campaign to rate food safety.

Samples were drawn randomly from eight retail supermarkets and wholesale markets across Taiwan, which include Wellcome (頂好), Matsusei (松青), Far Eastern AMart (愛買), RT-Mart (大潤發), Carrefour (家樂福), and PxMart (全聯).

11 Cases of Banned Pesticides

Results from three independent labs showed that 43 of the 58 samples came up positive for pesticides.

Moreover, 11 of these 43 tainted fruits and vegetables contain "virulent" and illegal pesticides.

Residues from at least one banned pesticide were found on 11 kinds of produce, which include kumquats, jujubes, leeks, mustard greens, green beans, and wax apples.

Additional samples contained pesticides that are not banned altogether, but which the Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) still deems hazardous.

For instance, a sample of leeks carried the legal fungicide "carbendazim" at a concentration of 2.7 parts per million (ppm) — which exceeds the nation's safety limit of 1.0 ppm by 2.7 times, said Project Manager Tsai Szu-ting (蔡絲婷) from the Taipei office of Greenpeace.

Said Tsai, local consumers tend to trust hypermarts, which need to step up to their responsibility as corporate citizens. Tsai urged hypermarts to launch tracking systems, so they are better able to identify and reject produce based on the risk to consumers.

25 Cases of Pesticide 'Cocktails'

Lab results also pointed up the prevalence of pesticide "cocktails" on supermarket produce, Tsai continued.

Pesticide "cocktails" may be problematic because individual pesticides react in ways that are not all identified. Unlike the effects of individual pesticides, the health effects of synergistic "cocktails" are difficult to study.

Cocktails of at least three kinds of chemical residues were found on 25 types of produce, including Chinese cabbage at an RT-Mart and grapes at a Matsusei.

Wax apples at a Hualien Far Eastern AMart contained seven types of pesticides, while bok choy at a Taichung branch contained eight.

In a Taipei Wellcome mart, Greenpeace found a sample of kumquats that carried 9 different kinds of pesticides.

February 9, 2012    olsonandko@
Greenpeace is a political organization. No one should accept their findings as anything other than an attempt to alter public opinion. Taiwan has plenty of official food safety organizations without taking the word of an unscrupulous organization.
February 9, 2012    elumpen@
Olsonandko: of course Greenpeace has an agenda, but are you implying they falsified the lab results, or do you simply disagree with "influencing public opinion" towards greater food safety? Most people have no idea that agricultural chemicals do more harm than good in the long term, so any attempt at education is a worthwhile one, even if it involves these sort of shock tactics.

Unfortunately, pesticides are widely abused in Taiwan and the result is no surprise. The farmer's lobby represents a powerful political force and no politician would risk losing votes by upsetting them. All sorts of laws in Taiwan are ignored for the sake of expediency.
February 9, 2012    socrates_el@
to: olsonandko
Taiwan has plenty of CORRUPTED official organizations. Last year the plasticizer scandal and now this! Whoao! What a great job they're doing! Talking about being unscrupulous...
February 9, 2012    lindenhulme@
Your comment is ridiculous. In another article, it is explained how this contaminated food reached the markets.
"...more than 80 percent of fruit and vegetables in the country were harvested before the results of the pesticide tests were known, Cheng said.
As a result, the tainted produce managed to reach the domestic market, he added."
February 11, 2012    ludahai_twn@
As someone who has done a lot of cycling and hiking in rural agricultural areas, it is VERY easy to believe that there are excessive levels of pesticides and other chemicals in fruits and vegetables throughout the country.
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