Pesticides found in European wines

March 28, 2008

You may be paying for more than just a bottle of bubbly when you purchase wine from Europe. A study by environmental groups says wines sold in the European Union may contain residues from a number of different pesticides.

The study by Pesticide Action Network Europe and other NGO groups says even expensive wines from world-famous vineyards run the risk of being tainted with toxic or carcinogenic substances.

The groups analyzed 40 bottles of wine purchased in the EU including six organic wines. They found that each of the 34 conventionally produced wines contained pesticides, including some classified by the EU as health-threatening. Of the six organic wines tested, five contained no pesticides.

Elliott Cannell of PAN Europe says the presence of pesticides in European wines is a growing problem. He says many grape farmers are abandoning traditional methods of pest control in favour of using hazardous synthetic pesticides.

The samples included 13 French, 10 German, 10 Austrian, three Italian, one Portuguese, one Australian, one Chilean and one South African wine. Pesticides were found in wines from all of the countries tested.

On average, each bottle of conventionally produced wine contained more than four different pesticides. The study did not specify at what level the substances are harmful to health.

Despite accounting for only 3.5 per cent of the EU’s agricultural area, grapes receive around 15 per cent of synthetic pesticides applied to major crops, according to EU data.

In 2006, the European Commission proposed new rules banning the use of 23 harmful pesticides on food crops in the EU. The plan, which needs approval by EU governments, also seeks to strengthen and simplify the rules for authorizing new pesticides in the EU market.


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