Laboratory analysis of conventionally grown strawberries picked from strawberry farms in Thurgau and Bern’s Seeland region, along with samples from Switzerland’s supermarkets, shows they contain high levels of pollution.
The study, requested by Greenpeace, involved testing samples of fruit and soil. Among the 20 different pesticides found across all of the samples, fungicides were the most common. One sample showed traces of 11. No samples of organically produced strawberries were found to be contaminated.
Of the samples taken from supermarkets, 12 of the 13 contained potentially carcinogenic pesticides, while 8 contained 4 or more different kinds of pesticide. Only one non-organic sample met the standards required for making baby food.
Despite all of the samples complying with pesticide limits, two samples had worryingly high levels that could present health risks for children who consume strawberries in high quantities.
Philippe Schenkel, an environmental engineer at ETH University in Zurich and Greenpeace said: “The cocktail of pesticides found in the samples analysed shows once more that Swiss agriculture is not as close to nature as we pretend it is. Pesticides in strawberries can not be good for health. Small amounts eaten each day allow toxic substances to accumulate in our bodies. Eating only organically produced food, means we help both our health and the environment.”
Greenpeace thinks the answer is to stop using chemicals in food production. They recommend a different model of agriculture which replaces chemical inputs and optimizes biodiversity to build agro-ecosystems, an idea put forward by IPES (The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems).