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Food for Thought

Sep 5

Written by:
05/09/2017 13:37  RssIcon

Pesticide Action Network launch report which reveals toxic pesticides found in School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme


In England every school child aged four to six is eligible to receive one free piece of fruit or veg per day under the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS).

On the face of it, this is a wonderful initiative aimed at promoting healthy eating in young children and helping them to achieve their 5-a-day goal for fruit and vegetable consumption. But is it really providing the best start for our children as intended?


Image: Food For Thought

Cocktail of Pesticides

Food for Thought”, a new report published by the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) on 5th September as children returned to school, raises some important questions about the level of pesticide residues routinely found in the produce provided through the SFVS. 

Based on testing conducted by the government between 2005 and 2016, PAN UK found residues of 123 different pesticides. They include known carcinogens, hormone disrupting chemicals, developmental toxins and reproductive toxins.  

84% of the produce tested positive for one residue while, in two-thirds of the produce tested, the residues of multiple different pesticides were detected. 

This is deeply worrying because very little research has been carried out into how these different pesticides interact with each other. The result is that we simply don’t know enough about the health effects that consuming this ‘cocktail’ of pesticide residues might be having.

What we do know for sure is that young children are particularly susceptible to the long-term effects of exposure to pesticides. Their bodies are still forming and pesticide exposure can interfere with the development of particular organs and lead to health problems in later life.

Should we really be experimenting on our children in this way when, with a little extra expense, we could be providing our young children with the very best?


Switching to Organic

PAN UK research indicates that for a mere 1p extra per child per day the government could switch the produce provided through the SFVS to organic. Not only would this reduce pesticide exposure for all children currently receiving produce through the scheme but it could also provide much-needed support to grow the British organic sector. 

PAN UK does not want to be alarmist or to discourage children from eating fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. But we do believe that parents have a right to know what is being fed to their children. Our hope is that parents and other concerned members of the public will use this information to lobby the UK government to do more to protect children from pesticides. 

The government is currently considering what to do about pesticides after Brexit so now is the time to take action. You can email the Department of Health and download PAN UK’s report.


This blog was written by Pesticide Network Action.  



Read more: Why Buy Organic - 5 benefits of choosing organic produce









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