Good news: less pesticides on fruits and vegetables
One day before the Knesset disbanded, they approved a dramatic revision in the legislation defining the maximum limits of pesticide residues on foods. Among the newly forbidden pesticides are carbamates and organophosphates which affect neurologic function. The use of other pesticides such as DDT will be severely limited.
In a small number of cases, an alternative pesticide will be allowed providing that it can be shown to be safe to the environment, wildlife, and of course humans. The new legislation will come into effect in 30 days.
There was a minor controversy as to who should sign the new legislation- the outgoing Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) or Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister and effectively the Minister of every office until there is a new government. In the end, Netanyahu’s signature appears on the document.
The legislation has not been updated since 2008, and there have been many changes worldwide limiting the use of certain pesticides since that time period.
Of course, now it will be up to Misrad HaBriut and Misrad HaChaklaut to make sure that farmers are using the proper amounts of pesticides and refraining from using illegal ones. Since the government disbanded without approving a budget, it is difficult to imagine how they will be able to do this. The last report regarding pesticide residues was put out by Misrad HaBriut in 2012. They reported that 56.7% of the foods sampled had the presence of pesticide residue. In 11.24% of the samples, there was a pesticide residue that was over the maximum permitted limit by law. There were 133 different compound detected.
Despite that, Misrad HaBriut performed a risk assessment without taking into consideration the peeling of fruits and vegetables and decided that the amounts present pose a minimal risk to human health, if at all. Some of the compounds found have already been banned from use in 2013.
It is important to note that these products were tested for survey purposes only- the products were not removed from the shelves as a result of the survey because the time it takes to receive test results is longer than products’ shelf lives.
For more information in English about pesticide use in Israel, go to Misrad HaChaklaut’s Pesticides Data Bank.
Of course, the best way to avoid pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables is to eat organic produce. Make sure that the product being advertised as organic truly is. Read about the labeling requirements and other information in English on the Misrad HaChaklaut web site.
Source: Ynet, Misrad HaBriut, Misrad HaChaklaut