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Research finds residues in fruit, vegetables

Last updated 07:43 14/07/2014

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A new study by a team of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston has found the presence of neonicatinoid residues in many fruit, vegetables and pollen in the United States and New Zealand.

The study is the first in the world to examine the presence of neonicatinoid residues in food, including organic food.

Researchers used modern detection methods to examine fruit, vegetables and pollen, including pollen samples supplied by members of the National Beekeeper's Association of New Zealand's technical committee.

The committee says the levels detected were significantly below the maximum residue levels set by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

However, their concern was that the neonicatinoid imidacloprid was detected in pollen samples from kiwifruit when that product was not authorised for use in that crop.

The committee says this discovery is "crucial to understanding that the world's most widely used systemic pesticide is now so common throughout our environment that no food stuff can be considered free of any residue."

Pesticides consultant on the NBA technical committee Don Macleod, of Pukekohe, said the committee agreed with the recent findings of the international task force that confirmed neonicatinoids had an effect on vertebrates and avian species.

While there was no new information from 800 peer-reviewed research papaers, the analysis confirmed neonicatinoids were toxic to bees and some of the effects on insects were noted at sub-lethal levels.

Macleod said neonicotinoids had been widely used in New Zealand for over 20 years since a product sold as Gaucho was first registered here in 1992.

Beekeepers were particularly concerned if neonicotinoids and systemic insecticides were used in a way that could lead to adverse effects on foraging bees.

He said the environmental persistence of neonicotinoids in soils and sub-surface water was of major concern to beekeepers because they could remain active for many months.

-NZ Farmer

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