Less than 1% of tested fruits and vegetables tested in 2020 had pesticide residues above EPA-established tolerances, and 30% had no detectable residue, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service said in its latest annual data report.
The data “illustrate that residues found in agricultural products sampled are at levels that do not pose risk to consumers’ health and are safe according to EPA and FDA,” the report said.
The 9,600 samples were collected from 10 states — California, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Florida, North Carolina, and Maryland. Most were fresh fruits or vegetables, but about 1,700 were processed products.
The report found some pesticides more frequently in imported than domestic samples. For example, the neonicotinoid acetamiprid was detected in about 41% of Guatemalan cantaloupes and 8.3% of domestic samples. The neonic imidacloprid was detected in 55.5% of the samples from Mexico and 17.9% of the U.S. samples.
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The most commonly detected chemical was azoxystrobin, a fungicide that was found on 17.5% of samples, though none at a level exceeding EPA tolerances. The fungicide was detected in 33.6% of U.S. samples.
A spokesman for the Environmental Working Group, which annually releases a report of the 12 fruits and vegetables it says run the greatest risk of pesticide exposure for consumers, said the report "clearly shows conventional agriculture continues its heavy reliance on toxic pesticides."
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