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Pesticides in Organic Food

Published: Mon 20 Dec 2004 10:07 AM
Pesticides in Organic Food
The Soil and Health Association of New Zealand is recommending certified organic produce, juices and wine for this seasons festivities as the most pesticide free start to 2005.
The recent report by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) suggesting pesticide residues in 22% of organic foods was flawed and as yet unsubstantiated say Soil & Health.
However, the far wider sampling of conventionally produced foods showed 42% with residues.
Last weeks Close-up @ 7 program on pesticides in organic foods has confused consumers and growers alike with many thinking 20% of organic products were contaminated said Steffan Browning, Soil & Health spokesperson, adding that this is unlikely to be the case.
While Soil & Health welcome the Commerce Commission investigation of apparent misrepresentation, Mr Browning asks why this has taken so long? Until completed, we do not know who is implicated.
More than half of the samples concerned were collected over a year ago and the rest 9 months ago, and yet consumers and growers are left in the dark.
The organic sector is based on integrity, has excellent standards and certification schemes and can correct any shortcomings if given the chance.
Just because NZFSA is not concerned about low level residues, should not mean the organic sector has to wait to further improve its already superior record, said Soil & Health’s Steffan Browning.
9 organic wines were tested and came back 100% squeaky clean, but of 24 conventional wines tested, more than half contained residues.
Of 6 organic potato samples, none had residues, but of 43 conventional samples 10 contained residues.
The problems with apparent residues in some organic tomatoes can be rectified with full information. Samples were taken from a range of sources, but who the growers or retailers were and whether the samples were labeled conventional in an organic shop, sprayfree or certified organic, remains unclear.
2005 will bring increased testing and further assurances of certified organics justified high reputation among organic consumers, who, according to Soil & Health generally have a good understanding of organic labels already, with New Zealand organic certifiers, Bio-Gro, Organic Farm NZ and Demeter all filling important niches.

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