A Pesticides Levy makes good sense

images One welcome development in general household food purchasing and consumption is how much more questioning we are of food provenance. Most of us also make some effort to eat a healthier diet (more fruit and veg, less red meat, less fats, more fibre). And most of us prefer to buy locally grown/produced rather than imported foods. When it comes to organic v non-organic most discerning shoppers would go for the former as long as the price difference is not a deterrent (and definitely the former if you grow it yourself). A few years back one of our members asked a local green-grocer if he would consider stocking organic foods. He responded in the negative saying that he felt it would be too risky and that more than likely he would be left with too much spoiled organics at week’s end. When asked if he stocked much locally produced food he was happy to say that if it could be grown locally he stocked it. Top marks then for making the trip from field to store as short as possible (meaning very fresh produce and small carbon footprint) and buying directly from local producers. “And sure,” he was asked, “that food would be close enough to organic wouldn’t it?” “It would,” he says. “That veg there wouldn’t get sprayed more than half a dozen times.” Our crest-fallen colleague picked up his bits and pieces and went on is way, the oft-repeated “We are what we eat” mantra repeating over and over in his head. The subject of pesticides in food was discussed at the Environment Ireland conference held in September 2014. At that gathering An Taisce proposed that Ireland introduce … “… a pesticides levy similar to that in place in Denmark and Norway. The tax would be based on a harm matrix and would encourage reduced chemical use, greater crop rotation and alternative weed control strategies.”

An Taisce went on to say that …

“… the detection of weedspray residues in humans was troubling … and steps were needed to lower the amount being applied to crops. In a study last year by Friends of the Earth, 44% of people tested positive for glyphosate residue. Ireland was not one of the 18 European countries analysed but the detection rate in the UK, Germany and Poland was 70% while Switzerland and Austria were much lower at 17% and 20% respectively. Earlier this year glyphosate residue was found in a high proportion of breastmilk samples given by mothers in the US, while in Europe, leading Danish bakeries have stopped taking wheat sprayed with products such as Roundup before it is harvested.”

If “we are what we eat”, many of us who think we are way ahead of the posse in eating our greens and our brightly coloured fruits, without questioning the provenance of that food, might need to think again.


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