Israel's Fruits and Vegetables Hold Record Levels of Toxins

Article Summary
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics has revealed that the level of toxic pesticides in fruits and vegetables in Israel among the highest in the developed world. Dalia Mazori reports that Israel still uses one pesticide which has been prohibited internationally.

It’s official: The level of toxins in pesticides in Israel between 2008 and 2010 was higher than in any other country in teh Organization for Economic Coorperation and Development, according to a survey on pesticides in agriculture conducted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. This means that Israeli produce is more dangerous for consumption than that of any other Western country.

The survey’s authors examined the pesticides of companies that produce or import such chemicals to Israel, and discovered that the amount of pesticides applied in Israel — 3.5 tons per 1,000 dunam (1,000 square meters) — is 88 times higher than in Sweden (0.04 tons), where the use of pesticides is the lowest.

In second place in the "most poisonous” countries in the world is Japan, with 1.55 tons per 1,000 dunam. As for the amount of active toxins in relation to residents, Japan is at the top of the list with 4.95 tons per 1,000 people. After Japan comes Israel, with one ton per 1,000 people, and Hungary, with 0.98 tons. At the bottom of the list is Switzerland and Norway, with 0.19 tons per 1,000 people, and Sweden, with 0.11 tons per 1,000 people.

In Israel, some 7,000 tons of pesticides are sold annually, used mostly to kill fungi, bacteria and insects, and for soil evaporation. The pesticides are sold for different purposes in 670 forms. Additionally, different chemicals are used to preserve and store fruits after they have been picked, to regulate growth through the use of hormones and as additives for plants.

The international Montreal Protocol banned the use of pesticides that damage the ozone layer — especially of methyl bromide, which is considered the most common pesticide of the last generation. However, the survey found that methyl bromide (a compound consisting of carbon, hydrogen and bromine) is still used in 570 pesticides sold in Israel. Other dangerous and widespread pesticides include the insecticides Confidor and Vertimec, and the fungicides Odeon and Ohio.

It should be noted that the Agriculture Ministry is revising these practices through the introduction of less toxic alternatives. This will replace the use of chemicals that include organic phosphates and herbicides from among the triazine group of pesticides, which have been discontinued. Among other steps, the Agriculture Ministry is encouraging a move to more environmentally friendly methods that do not use pesticides, geared mostly against fruit flies. There has also been an increase in the use of traps and instruments that kill insects and release sterile flies.

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Found in: methyl bromide, vegetables, toxins, pesticides, israel, ecology
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