Illustration av giftsymbol, frukt och grönt.

EU-banned pesticides found in food in Sweden

"You don't really know how low the exposure has to be before it's a danger"
5:28 min

Twenty-two of the world's most dangerous pesticides are present in food in Sweden, despite the fact that they are banned throughout the entire EU, reports Swedish Radio News.

Some of these chemicals disrupt hormones and are, therefore, considered to be dangerous even in very small amounts.

Despite tests by the Swedish National Food Agency that reveal traces of these chemicals - even in foods grown in Europe - the agency has not issued any alerts, reports Swedish Radio News.

Peter Bergkvist, a strategic advisor at the Swedish chemicals inspectorate, told the broadcaster that several of these hormone-disruptive substances were banned in Europe a decade ago.

But they are still being used. Pesticides that contain hormone-disruptive substances are a danger to people and animals where they are grown and for consumers, even in small amounts - though how small, no one knows today.

Bergkvist says that hormone-disruptive chemicals affect reproduction and the ability to have children.

In all, there have been about 150 cases in the last five years in which one or more of these banned chemicals have been found, but the agency believes that the trend is headed in the right direction.

Petra Fohgelberg, a state inspector with the agency, told Swedish Radio News:

"The number of cases in which there are such high levels that they are harmful for us consumers is decreasing." She goes on to say that "if we stick to the cases that exceed the limits, those have decreased dramatically since 2009. So, it's a clear trend straight downward."

The banned substances have been found primarily in food that is grown outside the EU, but the investigation reveals that even produce grown in the EU contains traces of the banned substances, including substances that are suspected of disrupting hormones. Traces of banned presticides have been found in oranges from Spain, olive oil and grapes from Greece, apples from Belgium and cucumbers from Holland.

But so long as levels do not exceed the Swedish National Food Agency's limits, it does not issue an alert. Farmers can continue to use the illegal substances.

The agency's database does not contain information about which pesticides are banned, so they are not detected in the automatic tests, according to Swedish Radio News.

Peter Bergkvist, who works at the Swedish chemicals inspectorate, believes that the agency should consider changing its routines, so that it alerts countries where food containing forbidden chemicals is grown.

While farmers within the EU cannot use these 22 pesticides, food which has been grown using the substances outside the EU is allowed to be imported to the EU, as long as the levels of the chemicals are under the EU limits.

This information also appears in a book that came out this month called "Miljödieten", by Daniel Öhman, an investigative reporter at Swedish Radio, and Maximillian Lundin.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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