The use of pesticides in foods is a concern - especially as some of these substances build up in food and pass into the human body. A pesticide is a substance used in agriculture mainly for repelling, eliminating, reducing, etc insects or microorganisms that might harm the crops.
There are numerous scientific studies that demonstrate the problems that these substances can cause within the body - for example, the study conducted by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). This study sampled a total of 236 of these substances, and found that more than half (144) represented potential risks to human health, causing (among other problems) cancer. We also point to the report drawn up by the European Commission’s Food Office, which shows that 3.6% of the food sold in European markets contains pesticide residues.
A new debate is currently taking place in the European Union and all developed countries, looking at ways of halving the pesticides currently used in the fields where food crops are grown.
In recent years, there has been success in reducing the use of pesticides: of the 900 that were used in the 1990s, today there are only 200. This work has been important but it is not satisfactory. The European Union has a goal of eliminating aerial spraying and designating areas free from this type of product or, failing this, using them only in very limited and targeted circumstances. Within ten years, the aim is to further halve the use of pesticides.
Other factors that support the implementation of more restrictive use of pesticides are: a greater awareness of the environment, increased concern over the levels of pollution and the loss of biodiversity, as well as a growing concern for consuming healthier products.
There is no doubt that reducing the use of pesticides is an important option in supporting food and environmental quality. However it inevitably means that solutions need to be found that are capable of substituting the use of pesticides in foods, while maintaining food-production productivity as far as possible.
In the coming years, initiatives will be put in place to promote the development of natural alternatives to using pesticides. Measures will also be taken to promote research and dissemination and ensure access to information, and the use of alternative methods to pesticides will also be strengthened.
All developed countries are already drawing up action plans in this respect: France has just set out the details of its ambitious 'Ecophyto 2' plan, which aims to reduce the use of pesticides by 25% by 2020, and by 50% by 2025. Meanwhile, Spain has a global strategy with specific measures aimed at achieving a defined objective - namely, to reduce the use of these substances by 30% by 2020.
Post-harvest solutions offered by Bioconservacion to remove ethylene from the atmosphere are completely harmless and are even suitable for organic products.