How Safe Is Our Food?

Consumers in Europe can help themselves to fresh fruits and vegetables without reservations, regardless of whether the products were organically grown or produced using conventional agriculture techniques. Only in extremely rare cases do checks by the authorities reveal residues of crop protection substances that lie above the legally permitted thresholds.

According to the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), only 0.9 percent of samples in the EU were the subject of complaints in early 2018. In Germany, the figure was even lower at 0.6 percent.

It should also be pointed out that in any case the legal limits described here have little bearing on consumer health. To represent an actual health risk, the residues of crop protection products would have to exceed the permitted maximum limits by a factor of approximately one hundred.

Natural pesticides play a far more important role in food products than chemical crop protection products. American biochemist and molecular biologist Bruce Ames has calculated that we consume some 1.5 grams of potential “toxins” daily if we maintain a diverse diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This corresponds to the weight of between 50 and 60 grains of rice. 99.9 percent of these substances are, however, natural in origin. In other words, the plants produce them to protect themselves against pests and other predators: for example, potatoes produce the toxin solanine, zucchini and eggplant produce dangerous bitter substances, and chili peppers produce the neurotoxin capsaicin. While these natural plant toxins make up a weight amounting to 50 to 60 grains of rice, synthetic pesticides by contrast weigh less than half a grain of salt (approximately 0.0015 grams). Source

Evolution created the liver in humans and animals due to these natural pesticides. It can easily render most of these substances harmless – but not all of them: for example, our liver cannot neutralize the poison of the death cap mushroom.

Synthetic crop protection products are meticulously examined prior to their registration in time-consuming studies. They are only approved once it has been ensured that they do not have any toxic effects and that any degradation products are also harmless. Yet lack of toxicity for people and animals is only one of the many criteria for the marketing authorization of a crop protection product.

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