Pesticides in food: limit values ​​and health consequences

Pesticides in food reduce the damage to plants caused by weeds, rodents, insects and germs. This increases the yield of fruits, vegetables and other plants. This article focuses on the substances that are on the surface of fruits and vegetables when they are for sale as food. Discover a short list of the most common types of pesticides found in modern agriculture and whether their residues affect human health.

Interesting facts about pesticides in food

biologist tests pesticides in foods such as apples and vegetables in the laboratory

In the broadest sense, pesticides are chemicals used to control organisms that could enter or damage plants, grocery stores, or households. Because there are many types of potential pests, humans use a lot of antidotes accordingly. Some of them are:

  • Insecticides: Reduce the destruction and contamination of growing and harvested plants by insects and their eggs.
  • Herbicides: Also known as weed killers, these improve crop yields.
  • Rodenticides: Important for controlling the destruction and contamination of plants by vermin and rodent-borne diseases.
  • Fungicides: Particularly important for protecting harvested plants and seeds from fungal rot.

Treat plants with pesticides in the garden

Organic farming uses biopesticides or naturally occurring chemicals that have developed in plants. However, there are too many types of these to outline here. Several regulatory organizations set safety limits for pesticides in food supplies. These limits are very conservative and limit pesticides many times lower than the lowest dose known to cause harm.

Health effects

device for measuring nitrates in vegetables

However, the pesticides in food and products rarely exceed safety thresholds and usually do no harm. Most associated diseases are the result of accidental overuse or occupational exposure. Both synthetic and organic biopesticides have harmful effects in higher doses than usual in fruits and vegetables. Both synthetic and organic biopesticides have been associated with increased cancer rates in higher concentrations in laboratory animals.

However, studies do not associate an increased risk of cancer with the low levels of pesticides in the products. A review of a lot of research has shown that the likelihood of developing cancer is less than one in a million due to the amount of pesticides consumed in an average life. A comprehensive overview of pesticides in food is available from the World Health Organization.

However, the levels of synthetic pesticides and organic biopesticides in products are many times below the lowest limit values. They are known to harm animals or humans. In addition, the many health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables in hundreds of studies are very clear and consistent.

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