The “Pesticide Action Network” (PAN), founded in 1982, is a network of more than 600 non-governmental organisations, institutions and people from more than 60 countries that seeks to minimise the negative effects of hazardous pesticides and replace them with environmentally friendly alternatives.

According to the document, Portuguese apples and pears are in second place in the ranking of the highest proportion of contaminated fruits in 2019. In 85 percent of Portuguese pears tested and in 58 percent of all apples tested, contamination by dangerous pesticides was found.

Contamination doubling

At an EU level, according to the study, contamination rates for both apples and pears more than doubled between 2011 and 2019.

The authors of the analysis point out that “there has been a dramatic increase in fruit sold to the public with residues of the most toxic pesticides that should have been banned in Europe for health reasons”.

The study, according to a statement from the organisation, contradicts the European Commission's claims that farmers are using fewer pesticides that are linked to cancer and other serious diseases.

Looking at data from 2011 to 2019, the study indicates that the most contaminated fruits were blackberries (51 percent of the samples), followed by peaches (45 percent), strawberries (38 percent), cherries and apricots (35 percent). In the same period of years, the countries that produced the most contaminated fruit were, in descending order, Belgium, Ireland, France, Italy and Germany.

“Horrible position”

Salomé Roynel, from PAN Europe, said that consumers are in a “horrible position” because they are advised to eat fresh fruit, “much of which is contaminated with the most toxic pesticide residues linked to serious health impacts.”

“It is clear to us that governments have no intention of banning these pesticides, regardless of what the law says. They are too afraid of the agricultural lobby, which relies on powerful chemicals and an outdated agricultural model,” she added.