PESTICIDES, POISONOUS EVEN IN SMALL DOSES: ORGANIC PRODUCE AS A SOLUTION

04 March 2019

Chemical substances are used in farming to eliminate unwanted weeds and protect plants from animal parasites and fungal diseases. Excessive use of such substances, however, can cause serious problems for the environment and the health of consumers.

What is the scale of pesticide use in Italy?

According to a 2015 report by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), 136,055 tonnes of plant protection products are distributed across Italy each year, with an average of 4.9 kg being used per hectare of cultivated land (this figure increases to 10 kg in the Veneto). Italy is the third biggest user in Europe after Spain and France, accounting for 16.2% of the total spend on plant protection products. This means that humans come into contact with an enormous quantity of these harmful substances, absorbing them through their water, food, respiratory systems and skin (consider, for example, the 10% increase in contaminated deep groundwaters between 2003 and 2006 – Source: ISPRA).

The consequences for man...and bees

Prolonged exposure to such substances can affect numerous vital organs and functions, right from the earliest stages of human life: on an endocrine level in foetuses and in terms of behavioural and learning disorders in children. More generally, pesticides have been cited as a "risk factor for the onset of vascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, cancer, lymphoma, leukaemia, melanoma, cognitive impairment and ALS" (source: ISDE, Doctors for the Environment).
Glyphosate, the world's most commonly used herbicide, was found to be responsible for causing cancer in American farmers, making the manufacturer liable to pay millions of dollars in compensation, unless events take a further turn. And respected American universities (Cornell and Austin) have demonstrated the risks posed by the herbicide to humans and pets who eat contaminated food, as well as to the precious honey bee: changes to their gut flora in response to exposure to Glyphosate significantly increases their mortality rates.

From citizens' hair to mass consumer products

The European Parliament's environment committee recently commissioned the IRES Institute in Strasbourg to conduct a study on a sample of 148 people from six European states, including Italy (the study included people living in both rural and urban environments). An analysis of their hair revealed that 60.1% contained one or more pesticides and, more alarmingly, that figure rose to 73.7% in the case of young people between 10 and 20 years of age. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) conducted a study of 1814 substances (including pesticides) found in mass consumer products: 32% of these were found to be illegal as they are DNA-reactive substances that are carcinogenic and cause endocrine disorders.

The shift to organic

The decisive response to this public health problem is represented by the increasing prevalence of organic foods certified by independent bodies, who guarantee compliance with the strict standards governing organic food through frequent controls at all stages of the production process.  There are currently 70,000 producers working in this sector in Italy, accounting for 20% of the total cultivated land and, as demonstrated by rigorous scientific studies, organic produce protects consumer health, ridding our systems of harmful residues.
One such study, conducted by the University of Berkeley in California, showed that eating organic food for just 6 days led to a 60% reduction in the presence of harmful residues in the system. A Jama Internal Medicine report on research conducted on 70,000 French volunteers between 2009 and 2016, meanwhile, concluded that regular consumers of organic food enjoy overall better health.

Simonato products, the (organic) aromatic garden

Since 1997, our company has bravely chosen to adhere to strict organic farming methods, because we firmly believe in eco-friendly production that respects nature and the environment. Our 40,000 m2 of greenhouses are equipped to ensure water saving and reuse, and we only use certified raw materials. Moreover, our company and our entire production supply chain are subject to periodic inspections by the relevant bodies and analyses performed by independent and certified laboratories.
Our commitment to nature led to the recent development of the innovative eco-friendly BioKepos3 packaging: the pot can be planted directly in the soil or disposed of in the compost bin; the clear bag that protects the plant is made from starch-based fibre and is suitable for industrial compositing; the information sheet is printed using certified colours on food wrapping paper and can be placed in the paper waste bin after use.
A brand new development for spring 2019 is the launch of our new organic vegetable plants, recently approved by the ICEA (Italian Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification): fully organic tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, courgettes and melons, ready to be transplanted into the soil.
For any information or requests in relation to our products or the most suitable packaging solutions for your needs, e-mail us at info@simonato.com