Laboratory tests on 92 wines by a French consumer group found traces of pesticides, insecticides and/or fungicides in virtually every bottle. Even wines made from organic grapes had pesticide traces, although the levels were much lower.
The levels were below the European Union’s maximum residue limits, according to the group, UFC-Que Choisir. However, there are no EU toxicity limits for bottled wine, only for wine grapes before fermentation.
Bloomberg reported on Sept. 25 that the group tested wines from various regions across France, ranging from a $2.20 bottle of generic red to a $20.25 bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wine producers only use 3.7 percent of France’s farmland but account for 20 percent of the country’s pesticide use, UFC-Que Choisir noted.
“By drinking a glass of wine, you have every chance of unknowingly swallowing a few micrograms of these pesticide residues,” UFC-Que Choisir wrote. “No wine today escapes the pollution by plant-protection products applied to the vines.”
The lab tests even found residues of an insecticide and a fungicide not allowed in the EU, the group said. Wines produced from grapes from “conventional” agriculture on average contained four pesticides, mainly fungicides, while for wine from organic grapes residues mostly consisted of one to two pesticides.
The highest pesticide count was found in a bottle of 2010 Bordeaux, with 14 chemicals detected, followed by 2012 Bordeaux with traces of 13 products, the group reported.
UFC-Que Choisir indicated that climate has a great effect on whether, and to what degree, French wine grapes suffer from diseases and bug infestations.
“Weather conditions, particularly rainfall, have a direct impact on diseases of vines and attacks by parasites,” they wrote. “The warm and dry weather of Provence and the Rhone valley partly explains why the wines from these regions are significantly less loaded with pesticides than their cousins from Champagne and particularly Bordeaux.”
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