Pesticide-CheckUp!

Between May and August 2022, 300 people from across Europe participated in the citizen science project to get thair hair tested for pesticide residues. The independent laboratory EXPOZOM analysed the samples for the presence of 30 different pesticides. The citizen science action was supported by partner organisations in 10 EU countries – check out the results!

We started with a question, and now we have the answers!

Pesticides used in agriculture can end up in our bodies!  With 25 out of 30 pesticides detected and 29% of samples containing at least one of the substances, the Pesticide-CheckUp shows that pesticide residues in our hair are widespread. While farmers, farm workers and the rural population are the most affected groups, pesticide residues were also found in the hair of people living far away from agricultural areas. The results also suggest that people mostly eating organic food usually have lower pesticide concentrations than those who rarely or never do so.

KEY FINDINGS

  • Nearly every third person (29%) had residues of at least one pesticide in their hair. 25 out of the 30 sampled substances were detected.
  • Farmers, farm workers and people living in rural areas usually had higher concentrations of pesticides in their hair.
  • The top 3 pesticides detected were: the herbicide Prosulfocarb, the fungicide Tebuconazol and the insecticide Acetamiprid.

Although the results are not representative for the overall EU population due to the small sample size, our findings show a clear trend and are in line with empirical studies (see e.g. Schleiffer & Speiser 2022 and Boedeker et al. 2020).

If you participated in the Pesticide-CheckUp, your personal results will be sent to you by E-mail in the beginning of November 2023. In case you did not recieve your test results, let us know at info@goodfoodgoodfarming.eu.

To compare the results of the Pesticide-CheckUp in different countries, check out EXPOZOM´s interactive exposure map!

EXPERT STATEMENTS:

Angeliki Lyssimachou, Senior Science Policy Officer at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL): “Surveys like the Pesticide-CheckUp show that EU-wide measures to reduce exposure to toxic pesticides are urgently needed to safeguard the health of vulnerable groups, such as farmers and residents of agricultural areas. European governments and the Commission must put health first and move towards an agricultural model that does not depend on pesticides or other harmful chemicals.” 

Madeleine Coste, Policy Officer at Slow Food Europe: “The EU must seize the opportunity to set in motion a true transformation of our agri-food system by supporting a shift to agroecology. Across Europe, citizens are mobilising for Good Food and Good Farming and making clear that change is needed to provide food that is healthy for them, for the planet, and for those producing it.”

Tjerk Dalhuisen from PAN Europe: “Pesticides should not be in people’s bodies and not in our hair. Especially not the most toxic ones that should have been banned long ago. One million Europeans demand a quick phase out of pesticides and to restore nature in the Save Bees and Farmers citizens initiative. Let’s start moving towards a pesticide-free future today.”

BACKGROUND

Pesticides are a serious threat to our food and farming systems. On the field, they kill pollinators like bees and reduce the quality of soils. They endanger the health of farmers and field workers. And their toxic impact doesn´t stop at the farm gate: through the food we eat, they find their way into our bodies and our close environments. This concerns us.

In May 2020, the EU released the Farm to Fork strategy – a declaration of intent that could play a significant role in transforming our food systems. One of the strategy´s target includes the reduction of pesticide use in the EU by 50% until 2030. However, this target is not legally binding and challenged by national governments and the agrochemical lobby. Currently, the EU revises their pesticide regulations – but these face the danger to be far less ambitious than EU citizens wish!

Now is the time to demonstrate our demands to EU decision-makers: Together we raise our voices for healthier food and farming systems that protect our biodiversity!

10 reasons to get rid of pesticides!

The Pesticide-CheckUp was supported by:

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