Farming groups have hit back after an anti-pesticide group suggested a Government healthy eating scheme was exposing school children to a ‘cocktail of pesticides’.
The Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme provides children aged four to six with a free piece of fruit or portion of vegetables every day, but the Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK) claimed the produce was ‘putting children’s health at risk’ because of pesticide residues.
Calling on Ministers to hand out organic-only produce to school kids, the group’s scaremongering report suggested the residues would interfere with children’s hormone systems, cause cancer and affect cognitive development.
PAN UK cited a Defra report which examined pesticide residues on fruit and veg used in the scheme to back up its claims, but the study actually showed the majority of samples contained ‘no detectable residues’ or residues ‘below the maximum level’.
In fact, the chairman of the expert committee which penned the report went to great pains to explain that ‘none of the residues found was likely to result in any adverse health effects’.
Crop Protection Association chief executive Sarah Mukherjee said: “Parents should rest assured that these residues are below the maximum levels permitted and therefore present no risk to health.
“Scientists and health experts overwhelmingly agree that the mere presence of residues in food does not mean they are harmful.
“The Government’s expert committee on pesticide residues in food advises that the positive effects of eating fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced, healthy diet are well proven and far outweigh any concern about pesticide residues.”