Put to test

Published: Monday 31 January 2000

reports from Finland of excessive pesticide levels in sweet peppers from Spain have led the ministry of agriculture, fishery and food's (maff) to test samples on sale in uk supermarkets. The results show high levels of organophosphate in the peppers. Ten out of 24 samples imported from Spain tested positive for excessive levels of methamidophos, an organophosphate used as an insecticide.

According to maff, the highest levels of methamidophos detected in some of the peppers "could result in a mild stomach upset for consumers." They would not cause long term health effects." Methamidophos is not approved for use in the uk because an application for its use has never been submitted.It is used heavily in China's rice fields and on a range of crops in the us , including potatoes, cotton, lettuce, tomatoes, cauliflower and broccoli. The insecticide is highly soluble in water and concerns have been raised about water contamination.

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