Portable pesticide sensors for produce coming soon
Published: April 4, 2018
Category: Pesticide Hazards, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
In the wake of weak monitoring of pesticides by the FDA and USDA, a University of Texas Dallas professor has built an inexpensive handheld device to test pesticide levels. Shalini Prasad’s tool will allow consumers, grocers, organic certifiers and growers to soon be able to check for pesticides on produce themselves.
When a swab is passed over the fruit or vegetable, a green light signifies a level under EPA limits, a red signifies over that limit. The sensors are easy to use, fast, potentially low cost, and very sensitive. Ray McAllister of CropLife America, a pesticide industry trade group, says the sensor can’t cover the entire surface of the produce nor its interior.
The EPA relies on manufacturers’ data, factoring in the maximum amount considered safe if ingested daily for 70 years to arrive at a total allowable exposure. The FDA usually finds most produce containing residues below EPA limits. But critics say standard toxicology tests are faulty, using very high doses and looking for overly toxic effects—while low doses have been proven to create harm. The FDA doesn’t do random samples of pesticide products; despite glyphosate use being 300x the amount used in 1974, the FDA never tested for glyphosate until 2017—and then only on four foods.
Wholesalers and grocers could monitor products before they reach consumers. But Prasad said, “This will become a consumer end product, because of everybody being invested in their own health.”
Source: Inside Science
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