123 Pesticides On Children's Fruit
Fruit and vegetables are given out daily to approximately 2.3 million four-to-six year olds each year in England via a government scheme aimed at promoting healthy eating habits. A new report launched today by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) has revealed that the fruit tested contained residues of 123 different pesticides, including pesticides that have been linked to having a negative effect on children’s cognitive development. “We know that young children are one of the groups most vulnerable to the health impacts of pesticides”, says Nick Mole of Pan UK. Even more worrying is what we don't know. We are still unsure of the long term effects of consuming pesticides and of the suggested 'toxic cocktail' effect of consuming a number of pesticides.
PAN UK highlight that for just an additional 1p per child per day, or £5.6 million per year, all of the fruit given to our children through this scheme could be organic. "Given how little it would cost to switch the scheme to organic, the government shouldn’t be putting our children’s health at risk when there are other options available.” Said Nick Mole from Pan UK.
An Apple A Day...
Increasing the proportion of fruit and veg children’s diets is a national priority. Few children eat their five-a-day, and many are overweight and unhealthy as a result. Rob Percival, Soil Association Policy Officer, explains that the Soil Association’s Food for Life scheme is achieving both ambitions – getting more veg on the plate, including organic veg lower in pesticides.
Rob Percival said: “These findings highlight the benefits of serving organic fruit and veg in schools. Through our Food for Life scheme, we’re getting organic produce on the menus of schools around the UK, including in some of the most deprived areas. Food for Life is demonstrating that public procurement can be a powerful tool for change – if more contracts specified Food for Life standards then more schools would be serving fresh, good quality, tasty, UK-sourced fruit, and vegetables, with low or no pesticides in them –with benefits for both children and British farmers.”
The Soil Association and PAN UK see Brexit as an opportunity to reevaluate the accepted norms of farming. PAN UK is calling on the Department of Health to start monitoring the health impacts of pesticide residues in food, particularly on vulnerable groups such as children. "Given the body of evidence showing that pesticides do harm human health, it’s astonishing that the Department of Health is not already taking steps to protect UK citizens”.
Join the Soil Association and help get better quality food into schools.
The Soil Association is calling on the Government to invest in better public procurement of food. This means widening public access to healthier, higher welfare, local and organic food and to build stable markets for farmers and growers. Food for Life is already demonstrating the potential benefits, increasing the uptake of more sustainable food and incentivising better farming, with benefits for school children, consumers, as well as British farmers and food businesses – investing in better public procurement and getting organic on the plate is a win, win situation!
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