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A little more than you asked for on the plate

The State Comptroller's report indicates: the extent of the use of pesticides, which are intended to overcome the problem of pests, is increasing significantly - and harming the health of Israeli consumers. so what are we doing? Learn to spray differently

The State Comptroller's report has been published - and there is no way to eradicate its bottom line: we spray our food much, much more than European countries, in a way that may harm our health and the environment as a whole.

In addition to the severe damage caused to animals and diverse ecosystems following the widespread use of these substances, many health damages are linked to them: various types of cancer, cognitive and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, developmental defects and impaired fertility. The health damage is not limited only to farmers who are directly exposed to the pesticides: the general public as a whole may be harmed by excessive use and high levels of the pesticides in the food they consume. So what do you do with this salad? Enforce the laws, minimize the permits and encourage research and innovation in the field, but first of all - know the data.

Israelis exterminate more

Just before making a salad, let's also order: Materials Pest control services They are an important link in the modern food supply chain - as those who protect crops from various pests, thus enabling agricultural produce on a modern scale. However, in light of the dangers that these substances bring with them, it is necessary to monitor their doses in the food of all of us.

Although pesticides are an important link in the modern food supply chain, in light of the dangers these substances bring with them, it is necessary to monitor their doses in our food. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Although pesticides are an important link in the modern food supply chain, in light of the dangers these substances bring with them, it is necessary to monitor their doses in our food. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In this context, our situation is dire: the use of pesticides in Israel is one of the most widespread in the world. From a follow-up audit on the use of pesticides in vegetables and fruits recently published by the State Comptroller, it appears that compared to the countries of the European Union - in Israel we consume up to 10 times more pesticides in relation to the scope of agricultural produce. In addition, according to דו"ח של organization the food and agriculture World (FAO) מ-2021, Israel ranks ninth in the world in the use of pesticides in relation to agricultural land, with only developing countries such as China and Ecuador ahead of it.

Also the Ministry of Health report on monitoring Residues Materials Pest control services in food ל-2020-2019 raises alarming findings: it demonstrates not only the extent of the extensive use of pesticides in Israel but also the increasing trend over the years in abnormal residues of pesticides in food to which the general public is exposed; The findings indicate abnormal levels of residues of these substances in food in 18.8 percent of all samples collected, a figure that represents a significant increase of 7 percent from 2016. In addition, 49 percent of the abnormal findings were found in the use of a pesticide that is defined as prohibited in that crop.

And more, in the list 440 The materials The activists the happy ones use for In Israel There are 113 substances which are prohibited for use in Europe, and which were found in significant deviations in our food. for example: Chlorpyrifos וCarbandazim - have the potential to harm fetal development and fertility; Biphanthrin - that is suspected to be a carcinogen; and other substances prohibited for use due to the significant damage to the environment, such as imidacloprid, which has been shown to severely damage bees.

Today's spray

The Ministry of Agriculture is the body in charge of licensing pesticides in Israel, and it is the one that formulates the guidelines for their application and guides farmers to their correct use. The Ministry of Agriculture bases its decisions on the approval of new preparations with the help of the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Health, Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, whose recommendations are based on data from Israel and the world. The same committee also performs re-evaluations of pesticides that are approved for agricultural use in Israel, and forwards its recommendations to the Ministry of Agriculture, that reveals You his decisions On the subject for his reference של The public.

We spray our food much, much more than European countries, in a way that may harm our health and the entire environment. Photo by Arjun MJ on Unsplash
We spray our food much, much more than European countries, in a way that may harm our health and the entire environment. Photo by Arjun MJ on Unsplash

In parallel with the activities of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health works to reduce the exposure of the public in Israel to pesticides as well as to reduce the scope of their use. As part of this activity, within Law the arrangements The European legislation for pesticide residues and contaminants in food was recently adopted. This move is intended to protect public health and at the same time promote the removal of barriers to trade and importing food to Israel.

Tomorrow's spray

Despite the adoption of the European legislation, due to various considerations of the Ministry of Agriculture - agricultural produce that includes fresh fruits and vegetables was excluded from the decision. But in light of the alarming trend of an increase in pesticide residues in food - there is no doubt that European legislation should also be applied to fresh agricultural produce. In addition, the use of pesticides that are prohibited for use in the European Union must be prohibited, with an emphasis on those found to have health consequences - and act actively to train and accompany Israeli farmers.

At the same time, to ensure prosperous agriculture and rich agricultural produce, the Ministry of Agriculture must promote research and innovation in the field of pest control and implement available solutions such as increased monitoring of pests, agriculture Integrated and precise (making agricultural decisions at the tree level instead of at the plot level, to prevent overuse of pesticides) and tools engineering Genetically are available, which can reduce the use of pesticides. Such an investment will not only protect public health and the environment in the near term, but will also place Israel at the forefront of innovation in the agricultural industry, and will pay for itself tens of thousands in the long term.

Dr. Yonatan Der is a fellow interface Formerly the National Food Service in the Ministry of Health.

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