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What's On My Food? website
Sunday 26 July 2009
Pesticides :: A Public Problem
What’s On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.
How does this tool work? We link pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical, making this information easily searchable for the first time.
Use the tool, share it with others: we built it to help move the public conversation about pesticides into an arena where you don’t have to be an expert to participate.
At Pesticide Action Network (PAN), we believe that pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve. We want you to have the information you need to take action on pesticides. What’s On My Food? builds on PAN’s 27-year tradition of making pesticide science accessible.
Examples of pesticides facts found on What’s On My Food?:
• 22 different pesticides were found on one strawberry sample.
• 79% of conventionally produced carrots contain linuron, a pesticide known to cause developmental or reproductive health problems.
We must stress that the website is from the US, and mentions pesticides used only in America.
Peter Evans, Convenor of the South Australian Task Force on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, has offered the following comments:
Both the USA and Australia are closely aligned in their regulation of pesticides (the European Union, on the other hand, is far more progressive and public health focused). With few exceptions, most of the pesticides registered for use in the US are also used in Australia. Our industrial farming practices are also quite similar.
A random look at some of the pesticides on the What’s On My Food? site that are unfamiliar to Australians will confirm that they are registered with Australia's regulators the APVMA (just Google APVMA + pesticide name). The various types of produce, for example strawberries and broccoli, which carry high levels of pesticide residue in Australia, are also reported to have high levels of pesticide in the US.
The group that is behind What’s On My Food?, Pesticide Action Network (PAN), is a highly reputable organization that has been able to achieve at least broader public understanding of the pesticide problem, although they probably haven't been so successful in actually achieving major regulatory reform. Unfortunately, there is no similar organisation in Australia, despite PAN being a global organisation with branches in Europe and SE Asia. Our closest local equivalent is probably the National Toxics Network (NTN), which has some limited information on pesticides in food that is nowhere nearly as extensive as the What’s On My Food? site.
The What’s On My Food? site is useful to raise awareness of the problem of pesticide use in food production. The Task Force's view, which is also promoted in environmental medicine but not conventional medicine, is that everyone with CFS, and especially those with CFS/MCS, needs to consider an organic diet anyway as a precautionary measure.
There is information from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSNAZ), the bi-national food standards regulator, about their regular assessments of pesticide residues in food. The 2006 report at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/ATDS.pdf claims that Australia has a clean bill of health in these matters. But FSANZ is a major part of the problem – they routinely ignore data on chemical sensitivities, allow numerous chemicals in our food that are banned elsewhere, and sometimes take an ad hoc approach to industry requests to increase acceptable pesticide levels in food, for example the herbicide glyphosate, which has been linked to MCS. They basically serve big business rather than the public and are certainly not aligned with the precautionary approach to food additives and residues taken in Europe. The What’s On My Food? site may help to counter FSANZ's claims.
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