Never mind the farmers, what about my food?

Chemicals that are left in the crop after harvesting are called “residues”. The issue of pesticide residues is very serious in Thailand. Here is some information from three different sources that should make everybody worried about what they are eating:

  • Between 1999 and 2003, the Ministry of Public Health tested 4,000 food samples from various sources. Approximately half of all samples contained pesticide residues, including 45% of Thai vegetables and 50% of Thai fruit. The Ministry also found that 55% of imported fruits contained pesticides. Grapes and tangerines were heavily contaminated by pesticides, but residues were not detected in bananas, mangoes, jackfruits and pineapples.
  • Between March 2002 and March 2003, the Sri Moom Muang wholesale market in Bangkok tested 1,753 samples of vegetables and fruits. More than 85% of all samples contained pesticide residues. On average, more than 3% of the samples contained levels of residues that were higher than the acceptable level. In some months, such as August 2002, the number of samples that exceeded the acceptable level was more than 12%. It should be noted that the staff at Sri Moom Muang can only carry out a basic test, which cannot detect some types of pesticides that are commonly used in Thailand.
  • Between July and November 2002, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives carried out a detailed study of two popular vegetables. A total of 202 samples of Kale and Morning Glory were examined using the best testing equipment available in the Ministry. Nearly half of the samples (48%) contained residues of pesticides which are classed as ‘highly hazardous (WHO Ib) or ‘moderately hazardous’ (WHO II). What is especially worrying is that nearly a quarter of the samples (23%) contained residues that were higher than the acceptable level. In five samples, a banned pesticide was detected, and in one sample the residue was 21 times the acceptable level!
Residue testing pesticides
Testing vegetables for pesticide residues. Many samples contain unacceptably high levels of residues.
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