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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Pesticide testing 'inadequate'
Bananas
Children's foods especially should be tested, says FoE
More food in Britain should be tested for pesticides, according to environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth.

The group says the UK has a lower rate of testing than any other country in the European Union.

It is especially worried about pesticides in children's food such as bananas and biscuits.

The call came on the same day the government published its annual report into pesticides.


If the government doesn't really know what pesticides we are regularly exposed to how can it keep saying that there is no risk to our health?

Sandra Bell FoE
Friends of the Earth says UK consumers are given inadequate information about their exposure to chemicals in food and it wants companies which make pesticides to pay for better testing.

More than 4,000 samples of food were tested for residues in 2001 by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Pesticides Residues Committee.

Its annual report showed more than 99% of samples tested negative - although 45% of crisps, 68% of cereal bars and 29% of breakfast cereals showed residues.

But the committee said there were no health risks to consumers.

But Friends of the Earth said that the UK tested fewer samples per 100,000 head of population than any other EU country.

'Increase levy'

Inadequate information about exposure to pesticides undermined the credibility of existing safety assessments and made it hard to monitor compliance with legislation, the group claimed.

Sandra Bell, pesticides campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "If the government doesn't really know what pesticides we are regularly exposed to how can it keep saying that there is no risk to our health?

"We need a much better system for monitoring residues in our food.

"The government should be paying special attention to the foods most commonly eaten by children, yet there is very little testing of popular foods from bananas to biscuits.


Consumers can have confidence in these results

Dr Ian Brown
Pesticides committee

"The levy on pesticide companies should be increased to pay for more testing."

Dr Ian Brown, chairman of the PRC, said the number of samples tested had almost doubled in 2001 from the year before.

"Consumers can have confidence in these results," he said.

A spokesman for Defra accepted the PRC did not test as many foods as other EU countries.

But he said the programme looked for a greater number of pesticides.

He insisted the PRC was effective and children's food continued to be a priority for the PRC.

Among products due to be tested were sausages, fish and chips and white chocolate.

"There is always room for improvements, which is why the PRC are consulting on ways the regime could be changed," he said.

See also:

16 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
26 Mar 02 | Health
02 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
07 Aug 02 | Health
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