Pesticides in Fruit and Vegetables

Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA) is a not-for-profit social organisation dedicated to achieving a healthy biodiverse planet and vibrant, sustainable communities.

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We are all aware that fruit and veggies produced commercially, unless they are certified organic, have been exposed to pesticides at some stage in their growth and that they may still contain residues when we buy them. But do you know that there are some which are more contaminated than others? If ever you needed an incentive to grow your own, recent analyses of pesticide content provide just that. The resulting listings of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen indicate which ones you will be best advised to grow yourself.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the USA has just released its 2015 Shopper’s  Guide to Pesticides in Produce1. This large not-for-profit, independent group is comprised of many experts including scientists and other researchers. They analysed data from the US Department of Agriculture and the US Food and Drug Administration from 2013, covering 34,000 produce samples, and found that almost two-thirds contained pesticide residues.

All produce was tested as it would be consumed i.e. washed and peeled if appropriate. The Dirty Dozen was calculated from combining rankings of each product according to 6 criteria:

  • Percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides
  • Percent of samples with two or more detectable pesticides
  • Average number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Average amount of pesticides found, measured in parts per million
  • Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Total number of pesticides found on the commodity”1

The report’s key findings are:

  • “99 percent of apple samples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece”1

Is this relevant to Australia?

You might say, “But Australian food has a reputation of being clean and green and U.S findings don’t relate to us”. But the few Australian studies that we could track down showed considerable overlap with the EWG findings. And commercial agriculture and pesticide use are similar in both countries.

In 2011, the Friends of the Earth (FoE) obtained a grant from the City of Yarra to produce a food guide and analysed Australian data from 2000 – 2011. Because monitoring of food is not performed consistently by a Federal government body, FoE analysed reports from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) Failing Food Reports, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) National Residue Surveys 2008-2010, FSANZ Total Diet Surveys 2003 and 2011, Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Produce Monitoring Reports 2007/8 –2008/9 – 2009/2010, Food Watch WA and other state based monitoring programs.2

Fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticides#

U.S. Produce1 Australian Produce2
2010 2011 2013  2000 – 2011
Celery Apples Apples Apples
Peaches Celery Peaches Pears
Strawberries Strawberries Nectarines Strawberries
Apples Peaches Strawberries Grapes
Blueberries Spinach Grapes Lettuce
Nectarines Nectarines (imported) Celery Nectarines
Sweet bell peppers Grapes (imported) Spinach Peaches
Spinach Sweet bell peppers Sweet bell peppers Tomatoes
Kale/Collard greens Potatoes Cucumbers Apricots
Cherries Blueberries Cherry tomatoes Carrots
Potatoes Lettuce Snap peas (imported) Plums
Grapes (imported) Kale/collard greens Potatoes Green beans

#Listings are from highest to lowest levels of pesticides

Which pesticides?

The most frequent types of pesticides in food in Australia, according to the FoE study, are shown in the table below.

Type of Pesticide Percent of samples containing them
Insecticide 39.5
Fungicide 32.1
Synergist# 5.6
Herbicide 4.1
Other 8.6


#Synergists block the ability of the target organism to break down the pesticide

These include a range of highly toxic chemicals such as chlorpyrifos, fenitrothion, difocol and dimethoate3,4. Many are prohibited for use in the European Union and the U.S. Many persist in soil or find their way into waterways where they harm aquatic life.

An example is chlorpyrifos which is used commercially on a wide variety of crops, including fruits and vegetables. The safety advice prepared by manufacturers of commercial insecticides containing chlorpyrifos warns that it should not be used by householders in or around homes since it is too hazardous. Children and animals are more susceptible. It affects the nervous system and has been linked to interference with development of intelligence and to behaviour problems in children. It is toxic to bees, aquatic organisms including fish, and to some invertebrates and is currently under review by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals. However, this chemical is present in some current garden products to kill lawn beetles and grubs.

strawberry1In 2008, Choice conducted a study on strawberries from 27 growers in all states (except Tasmania and South Australia) and found residues from 9 different pesticides with 17 samples containing 4 different chemicals5. Among the residues found were chlorpyrifos and dimethoate mentioned above.

Regulation of allowable pesticide residues

In Australia, Food Standards Australia & New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) set Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticide levels in fruit and vegetables. These limits are based on residue levels that might be expected if the use of the pesticide has been in accord with manufacturer’s instructions and with required withholding periods which are set so that produce is safe for consumption6. MRLs also take into account the amounts of each food likely to be consumed.

Monitoring of residue levels in food is conducted in an Australian total Diet Survey by FSANZ every 3 years and by the Department of Agriculture in its National Residue Survey. States and territories also conduct surveys such as Food Watch in Western Australia and the Sydney Markets Residue Survey. The latter tested 6,900 samples of fruit and vegetables from 1989 to 2005 and found that most (97.5%) complied with the MRLs. Only 171 samples exceeded acceptable levels7. However, testing does not sample every grower or processor or every food. Imported fruit and vegetables make up over 10% of the total available, but only about 5% are tested by the Australian Quarantine and Information Service (AQIS). Not all pesticides are tested for and not all survey results are publicly available.

Should I eat only home-grown or organic?

Are the reports of pesticides in produce just scaremongering? Reliable scientific evidence shows that pesticides which have been detected are implicated in cancer and in disruption of nerve and reproductive pathways5. And these chemicals find their way into our bodies.  For example, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 96% of a sample of 5000 people aged 6 or older had pesticides in their blood and urine.

The degree of risk associated with consuming non-organic fruit and vegetables is difficult to determine for any given individual. It depends on the amounts and combinations of pesticide residues consumed, at what stage of life, whether any effects accumulate over a lifetime and whether monitoring actually includes samples that would not meet MRLs.

The EWG’s Clean Fifteen have the lowest levels of pesticides. Starting from lowest levels they are avocadoes, sweet corn, pineapple, cabbage, frozen peas, onion, asparagus, mango, papaya, kiwi fruit, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower, sweet potato.

If you want to reduce levels of pesticides in your body when buying commercially grown produce, choose from the Clean Fifteen, buy less of the Dirty Dozen and seek out certified organic produce.  Better still, grow you own with a focus on the Dirty Dozen – and avoid pesticide use in your garden.  If you feel you must use a pesticide, choose from SGA’s Low Environmental Impact listing in our Garden Product Guide – Safe for You ‘n’ Nature. The criteria used in this Guide take into account effects on humans, insects and aquatic life.

For the full listing of produce examined by the EWG and FoE and more details on pesticides see the references below.


1. Environmental Working Group (2015) EWG’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
2. Friends of the Earth (2012) The dose makes the poison.
3. WWF and National Toxics Network (2010) Australia’s Most Dangerous Pesticides
4. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) (2014)
5. Choice (2014) Strawberries and pesticides. How do you pick the best and avoid an extra serving of chemicals?
6. Food Standards Australia & New Zealand (2013)
7. NSW Department of Primary Industries (2006) Spray sense. Information on Pesticide Issues, No. 3






When Peter had surgery in Wollongong Hospital last month he stayed after surgery in a general surgical ward. The following morning Monika gave me another lift to Wollongong on her way to work. So she dropped me off at the hospital just a few minutes after 8. When I went up to the ward to visit Peter I was allowed in immediately. Peter was in good spirits and was already sitting up having his breakfast.

As it turned out Peter had to stay in hospital only for one night. After several tests on the morning after surgery it was decided that he could go home. Monika had offered to come to the hospital again after work. The night before she had come to the hospital after work to visit Peter after surgery. I had still be with Peter. So Monika drove me home that evening.

Peter had been familiar with that ward he was in already from his previous surgery a few months ago. On that occasion Peter had to stay in hospital for two nights. Peter was in a ward with the main specialty being urology. We found the ward was very well equipped with all modern facilities. All the staff was extremely friendly.

By lunchtime Peter had been given permission by his doctor to go home that day. He was asked, did he have transport home. Well, he said, his daughter could drive him home after work. But that meant he would have to wait for until she finished work. Peter discussed it with me. He said he did not like the idea that he would have to wait till evening to be driven home. He felt okay walking. He had been walking with me to the kiosk in the hospital for some coffee. And we had been walking together out onto the terrace on level 2.

The Terrace in Wollongong Hospital

It did not take long and Peter came up with the idea that we could catch the bus in front of the hospital that would take us to Dapto near the taxi stand. And we could catch a taxi from the Dapto taxi stand rather then catching a taxi all the way from Wollongong. Nurse said she had to ask the doctor whether Peter could go on the bus. The doctor gave permission.

Peter checked the bus timetable. He went to the toilet before we went out to the bus stop right in front of the hospital. The bus arrived on time. At this time of the day very few people catch the bus to Dapto. For the whole trip I think only another two or three people did come on the bus. The trip from Wollongong to Dapto lasts only for about 15 minutes. But once we arrived in Dapto Peter had to go to the toilet again. So before catching our taxi he went over to the shopping centre toilets. I waited with all his things near the taxi stand. The taxi home cost us only nine Dollars (including a tip of one Dollar). A taxi from Wollongong would probably have been more like fifty Dollars. We thought this was a great saving. Very happy we arrived home at around three o’clock. And Peter gave Monika a message that we were home already. For Monika it was good too that she could go straight home after work on that day.

While visiting Peter in his ward at the hospital I had copied the following from a poster that was displayed for the public:

“Welcome to Ward B 4 East

We are a general surgical ward with our main specialty being urology.

Our team will make every effort to meet your needs and make your stay with us as pleasant as possible.

Please do not hesitate to ask any questions or to inform us of ways that we can help you.

Wollongong Hospital has open visiting hours for our patients between 8 am and 8 pm every day of the week.”

Myths of Migration

Much of What We Think We Know Is Wrong

The debate over migration is plagued by a variety of inaccuracies and misunderstandings — on both the right and the left. Here is what the research really shows.

By Hein de Haas

I copy here just part 8 of a very long article by Hein de Haas. This section brings the article to a conclusion. Of course this is written from a EU perspective, but would probably apply to other developed countries as well.

8. No, we aren’t living in an era of unprecedented migration.

And finally, a look at the broader picture. For over half a century, the number of migrants as a percentage of the world population has remained remarkably constant at levels of roughly 3 percent since 1960. Even as the number of international migrants has increased from 93 million in 1960 to 244 million in 2015, the global population has increased at approximately the same rate, from 3 billion to almost 7.3 billion.


The idea of a global “refugee crisis” likewise has no basis in fact. On a global scale, refugees represent a relatively small share of all migrants. While the number of refugees decreased from 18.5 million to 16.3 million between 1990 and 2010, the total rebounded to 21.3 million in 2016, primarily as a result of war in Syria. Still, refugees only represent between 7 and 8 percent of the global migrant population, and about 86 percent of all refugees live in developing countries.

Countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia and Jordan currently host the largest refugee populations. Western societies, by contrast, receive a comparatively low number of refugees, and current numbers are anything but unprecedented. Currently, about 0.4 percent of the total EU population is a refugee. That figure hovered around 0.5 percent between 1992 and 1995.

The main change in global migration patterns has been the dominant direction of population movements. Whereas in past centuries, it was mainly Europeans who migrated to foreign territories (or conquered them), this pattern has been reversed since World War II.

With its strong economy and aging population, the EU has emerged as a global migration destination, attracting between 1.5 and 2.5 million non-EU migrants per year. Although this sounds significant, it corresponds to between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of the EU’s total population of 508 million.

Furthermore, between 1 million and 1.5 million people leave the EU every year. Net migration in European countries like France and Germany tends to fluctuate, as illustrated above, in parallel to business cycles, but the long-term trend does not show an increase.

There is an urgent need to see migration as an intrinsic part of economic growth and societal change instead of primarily as a problem that must be solved. It is inevitable that open and wealthy societies will experience substantial immigration in the future as well, whether they like it or not.

This exposes one of the paradoxes of liberalization: The political desire for less migration is fundamentally incompatible with the trend towards economic liberalization and the desire to maximize economic growth. The erosion of labor rights, the rise of flexible work and the privatization of formerly state-owned companies in recent decades have significantly increased the demand for migrant labor in Europe. The heated migration debates in Britain and the U.S. – both strongly liberalized market economies facing persistently high levels of immigration – are powerful illustrations of this liberalization paradox.

As such, the only way to really cut down on immigration seems that of reversing economic liberalization and strictly regulating labor markets. That, though, could also decrease levels of wealth across the board. The question then becomes: Is that really what we want?


Hein de Haas is a professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He was a founding member and former co-director of the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford. For more information on research findings underpinning this article, see and

The Age of Consequences


By PBS International, Jared P Scott

Updated March 20, 2017 20:24:00

The Age of Consequences

The Pentagon insiders with a climate change warning for the world.

The Age of Consequences – Monday 20 March 2017

“We are not your traditional environmentalists.” Gen. Gordon Sullivan (Retd), Fmr. Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Four Corners brings you the views of distinguished former members of the US military and senior policy makers who warn that climate change is not only real, it’s a threat to global security.

“I’m here today not only representing my views on security implications of climate change, but on the collective wisdom of 16 admirals and generals.” Rear Admiral David Titley (Retd), U.S. Navy

They say climate change is impacting on vital resources, migration patterns and conflict zones.

“Climate change is one of the variables that must be considered when thinking about instability in the world.” Gen. Gordon Sullivan (Retd), Fmr. Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Rear Admiral David Titley spent 32 years in the US military. He was the US Navy’s chief oceanographer and led the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. He argues climate change must be acknowledged.

“Our collective bottom line judgement is that climate change is an accelerating risk to our nation’s future.” Rear Admiral David Titley (Retd), U.S. Navy

The film analyses the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, and the rise of groups like ISIS and how these experts believe climate change is already acting as a catalyst for conflict.

“This is the heart of the problem in many ways. Climate change arrives in a world that has already been destabilised.” Dr Christian Parenti

Director Jared P Scott explores how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather and rising sea-levels can act as accelerants of instability.

“We realised that climate change would be a threat multiplier for instability as people become desperate, because they have extreme weather and the seas are rising, and there are floods in one area and droughts in another, fragile states become more unpredictable.”Sherri Goodman, Fmr. Dept Undersecretary of Defense

These Pentagon insiders say a failure to tackle climate change, conducting ‘business as usual’, would lead to profound consequences.

“It’s a very dangerous thing to decide that there is one and only one line of events heading into the future and one and only one best response for dealing with that.” Leon Fuerth, Fmr. National Security Adviser, White House ’93-’01

The Age of Consequences, from PBS International, directed by Jared P Scott and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 20th March at 8.30pm EDT. It is replayed on Tuesday 21st March at 10.00am and Wednesday 22nd at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, and at ABC iview.


Chuck Berry Songs

Published on Jun 15, 2015

Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll
Listen to these songs from the man who could play a guitar like he was ringing a bell and see if school days are same. Find out why Anthony Boy is in such a rush and see the true beauty of the Brown Eyed Handsome Men. Roll over Beethoven, Roll over One-Direction, Tell Beiber the news. Here comes Chuck Berry.


Published on Mar 18, 2017

North Korea, Meet The New Sheriff. With Washington taking a North Korea policy overhaul, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday declared that the existing “strategic patience” approach is over, saying all options including military action are on the table.

Militarism in the Age of Trump, Part I

The Disorder Of Things

Part I of a post based on a paper I am co-authoring with Bryan Mabee, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. Bryan is the author of Understanding American Power (Palgrave, 2013), The Globalization of Security (Palgrave, 2009) and co-editor with Alejandro Colás, Mercenaries, Pirates, Bandits and Empires (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2010).  The paper is being prepared for “Militarism and Security,” a workshop organized later this month at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg by Anna Stravianakis (for her latest appearance on this blog see The Dissonance of Things No 3) & Maria Stern.

Update: Part II added on 18/03/17.

With Donald Trump as the president of the United States, militarism is once again becoming a hot topic. Trump’s appointment of right-wing generals to senior posts in both the White House and his cabinet legitimate militaristic policy discourses and positions, as do the…

View original post 2,228 more words

More Rain today, 19 March 2017

And more rain is forecast for the following week.  So it’ll just continue like this. At least it is not very cold. We live like in a rain forest. Things are growing quickly in this rain. I just noticed an article about the floods in other parts of NSW. So we are here comparatively well off still. We have not been flooded yet! Not far from us there have been some minor floods and road closures during a downpour last Thursday. Right now it seems to be much worse further north.

The Current Sydney Weather Forecast Will Make Every Melburnian Laugh

Just wait till you read the stats on Sydney versus Melbourne rainfall.

16/03/2017 2:19 PM AEDT | Updated 23 hours ago

Ah, sunny Sydney.

Forecasts from earlier this week for extreme weather in Sydney turned into a great big fizzer. But Sydney’s weather has been notable this month for reasons other than severe storms. In short, the rain has been relentless.

While Sydney has copped the occasional heavy downpour, the real story is how frequent the rain has been. Every day bar three in March 2017, Sydney has been wet. That’s right, it has rained on 14 of 17 March days to date, for a total in excess of 200mm across virtually all suburbs.

The next seven days? More rain is forecast. With some light and heavy showers thrown in. And maybe a little drizzle, just to mix things up a little.

This is not Melbourne. Therefore it has inferior coffee and weather.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, rain has been recorded on just three days in March. On two of those days, the city received just 0.2 mm, which is barely enough to wet the roads. In total, Melbourne has had 2.2 mm in March so far. Little more is forecast for the week ahead.

Melbourne is headed for sun and top temps in the low 30s this weekend, while Sydney is going to be wet, again, with the likelihood of at least another 50mm of rain.

In a moment, we’ll tell you about the weather pattern in place right now, which typically brings dry weather to Melbourne and rain to Sydney. But first, some weather stats. These might surprise you.


Amazing stuff, huh? It’s true. Sydney really is wetter than Melbourne by almost any measure.

interestingly, despite Melbourne’s reputation as the wet city, both cities have exactly 100 rain days on average each year. In Melbourne a sunny day can turn showery at barely a moment’s notice, but rain totals are typically not huge.

In Sydney, when the rain comes, it comes hard — and often sticks around for weeks. The weekend weather map shows why.


If you can’t read a weather map, you really just need to know that air flows anti-clockwise around a high pressure system (see the big H parked near New Zealand?).

So Sydney is being drenched by a regular flow of onshore winds bringing moist air from the Coral Sea. Persistent easterly winds almost always bring steady rain to Sydney. But the rain doesn’t travel far inland.

When it’s been raining so much, there’s waterfalls on the motorway! @SkyWeatherAUS

Meanwhile, it appears that the Bureau of Meteorology has a dry sense of humour. On March 22 — which is the fifth of seven consecutive wet days on the current Bureau prognosis — the Sydney forecast says “showers increasing”.

We’re honestly not sure how much more the showers could increase.