Organic body plays down glyphosate concerns in new tests

“Trace levels” of the herbicide glyphosate have been found in tests of organic grain and cereal products.

The Organic Council, which according to its website is a non-profit campaigning for “totally organic principles”, conducted a “2018 annual organic product pesticide basket survey”.

Glyphosate was found in Waitrose Duchy Farmhouse Batch wholemeal bread and Tesco Organic Plain Flour, but not in Whole Earth Golden Organic Corn Flakes. The levels were “somewhere between” the lowest limit of quantification available by the test and the maximum statutory permitted residue level.

The study, reported by FoodNavigator.com, also found that one sample of organic eggs from Ocado contained levels of the insecticide cryomazine that were above the permitted maximum. Ocado said it was taking the matter seriously, but has found “no evidence to support the claims made”.

Possible explanations for the contamination with glyphosate included historic soil contamination. This would would suggest “failures when commissioning new organic farm sites”, the newly formed campaigning group said. Poorly set up buffer zones between organic and conventional farms could be another explanation.

“… the current systems used to separate conventional and organic farming are not working”, said Dr Esme Purdie from the Organic Council.

Organic food occasionally contains traces of chemicals, but usually at very low levels due to environmental contamination. However, the Soil Association, which certifies UK organic farms and food, said the conclusions being drawn were “an exaggeration at best, misleading at worst”.

Very few products appear to have been tested and details of the test results remain sketchy, with nothing publicly available on the Organics Council website.

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