Time for an intervention: Tesco must end their pesticide habit

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Feature Story - 2011-11-15
After three years of independent testing, produce sold at Tesco supermarkets in China continues to show levels of pesticides far above the legal limit. When is Tesco going to wake up and smell the chemically-doused produce? By Evan Brooks.

Greenpeace personally presented a letter to Tesco's China headquarters in Beijing requesting the supermarket chain ensure its agricultural suppliers stop using harmful and, in some cases, illegal pesticides, and to make its produce supply chains are transparent.

 

This latest round of tests came in response to claims by Tesco in September refuting Greenpeace's previous findings. It is the fourth test run by Greenpeace since early 2009. And unlike Tesco, science doesn't blur the cold, hard truth.

"Time and time again we've found illegal levels of pesticides in Tesco produce," said Greenpeace agriculture campaigner Wang Jing. "Ordinary Chinese people eat this food. It’s unhealthy particularly for children. When is Tesco going to change its standards for Chinese produce?"

Greenpeace filed a public interest law suit against the supermarket giant in early September because of its continuing violations of Chinese food regulations. We're calling on Tesco to take responsibility and ensure its produce doesn't harm people and the environment. Tesco should at the least raise its produce standards in China to the quality used at other Tesco stores around the world.

"These results raise the question of double standards for food sold in Tesco stores in China compared to food sold in their stores outside of China," Wang said. "We're talking about food safety, and more importantly, we're talking about people's health. Chinese customers should receive the same quality and safety of produce that European customers do."

To date, Greenpeace has tested 21 fruits and vegetables at different Tesco stores throughout China. In early October, Greenpeace campaigners sampled five vegetables randomly from a Tesco store in Tianjin. Results from an independent laboratory found from the samples residue of at least three types of chemicals – carbendazim, dimethomorph and chlorpyrifos – existing on spinach and leeks. The leeks had levels of chlorpyrifos residue that were two times higher than China's regulations allow.

We're calling on Tesco to immediately ban the use of most hazardous pesticides from its produce, as urged by both the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. And we're also asking Tesco to control its supply chain and ensure that it is not selling any food with highly hazardous pesticides or that has been genetically modified.

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