Almost four out of 10 samples of both domestically grown and imported fruits and vegetables that were put to the test by California showed no signs of pesticide residue — whatsoever.
Coming two weeks after federal pesticide residue testing results for 2015 were released, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has come out with its own findings, also for 2015.
California has one of the world’s most comprehensive programs to regulate and monitor pesticide use. The state’s pesticide residue monitoring for 2015 involved DPR collecting 3,600 samples of more than 145 different fruits and vegetables intended for human consumption.
About 56 percent, or 2,071 of the samples, were domestically grown; 42 percent, or 1,509 samples, were of foreign origin; and 1 percent or 20 samples, were undetermined. Forty-four percent of the domestic samples were labeled as “California grown.”
Foreign-grown fruits and vegetables came from Mexico with 984 samples, China with 107, and all other countries with a total of 418.
In addition to finding 39.8 percent had no detectable pesticide residue, the testing by the California Department of Food and Agriculture found:
55.8 percent, or 2,010 of 3, 600 samples, had one or more pesticide residues below or equal to established tolerance levels;
- The majority of the samples contained residues that were less —usually much less —that 10 percent of the tolerance level.
- 1.2 percent, or 43 out of 3,600 samples, contained one or more illegal pesticides in excess of tolerance levels.
- 3.1 percent , or 113 out of 3,600 samples, had one or more illegal residues not approved for use.
The Alliance for Food and Farming, which includes both conventional and organic farms, was quick to depict the California findings as evidence “97.3 percent of tested California-grown produce had little or no pesticide residues.”
The Alliance said California’s findings “mirror national results” released just two weeks ago by USDA’s Pesticide Data Program. It said the national data shows 99 percent of fresh produce sampled had no residue or residue levels well below tolerance levels.
Organic fruits and vegetables were completely free of pesticides in 85.4 percent of the California samples.
A high level of illegal pesticides were found in a handful of products including:
- Mexico — cactus pad, lime, tomatillos, chili peppers, summer squash, chayota and blackberry;
- U.S. — spinach, kale, strawberries and Daikon; and
- China — Ginger.
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