Toxic chemicals found in fruit and vegetables

Greenpeace reveal array of potentially damaging substances in fruit and veg

Tests on samples of fruit and vegetables bought in and around Athens have found 27 toxic substances, some banned by the European Union, the local office of Greenpeace has revealed.

Some 27 toxic chemicals have been found in tests on samples of fruit and vegetables bought in and around Athens, according to the local branch of Greenpeace.

The environmental group said that pesticides – many of them banned by the European Union – were found in tests on apples, pears, bananas, carrots, courgettes, potatoes and onions. 

Fifteen of the samples were grown in Greece and nine were imported, and all were bought in in central Athens and outlets in Kallithea, Peristeri and Halandri.

Some of the samples, said Greenpeace, contained a "cocktail" of between 3-9 pesticides ranging from "toxic" and "extremely toxic", according to European Union terminology, or are potentially damaging to aquatic life.

Specifically, the following were found:

In apples and pears

A suspected carcinogen – Thiacloprid

In carrots

Potentially damaging to an embryo during pregnancy – Linuron

In courgettes, carrots, apples, pears and bananas

Highly toxic to aquatic organisms – Azoxystrobin, Chlorpyrifos, Deltamethrin, Indoxacarb, Imazalil, Linuron, Pyridaben, Captan

In apples, carrots and courgettes

Damaging to honeybees – Individually or a combination of Chlorpyrifos, Etofenprox, Flonicamid, Indoxacarb

In calling for the food and agriculture ministry to take action, Elena Danali, head of Greenpeace Greece's sustainable agriculture unit, said: "Despite the utmost nutritional importance of fruit and vegetables in the diet of children and adults, the ministry is allowing and even encouraging farmers to use toxic and dangerous substances in the cultivation of our food."

She added that both consumers and farmers are defenceless victims of the profiteering of large agricultural companies.

Farmers, she said, are particularly at risk to substances such as Captan (toxic when inhaled, a suspected carcinogen and damaging to eyesight and Deltamethrin (toxic when inhaled or when it comes into contact with the skin).

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