Widespread presence of chemical pesticides in commercial insecticides/insect repellents products: the timely new European pesticide strategy Farm to Fork

From Dr. Konstantinos C. Makris

Within the new European Green Deal framework, the Farm to Fork strategy (1) recommends the gradual reduction in both the use of chemical pesticides, and the use of the most dangerous for human health pesticides by 50% in all European countries by 2030. Residues of chemical pesticides are often detected in foodstuff (mainly in fruits and vegetables), but they are also included as main ingredients in insect repellents / insecticides used for pest control at home.

A basket survey conducted in 10 supermarkets by our lab during summer of 2019 recorded the types and formulations of insecticides / insect repellents products available in the market of Cyprus.

Results showed that at least a total of 50 different insect repellents / insecticides products are sold in Cyprus to control mosquitoes / cockroaches / ants / flies, etc.; however, only 3 of them did not contain chemical pesticides as the main active ingredient.

The European Union’s new strategy, Farm to Fork is partly based on long accumulated research findings showing that chronic, low-dose exposures to pesticides could be adversely impacting children’s health [2], by affecting their normal growth and neurodevelopment. Being present in indoor environments sprayed with insecticides / insect repellents and/or systematically consuming foods containing pesticide residues may increase one’s chemical-based body burden. It is thus, deemed necessary to reduce human exposures to the above sources of pesticides in order to protect the health of sensitive subpopulations, like children.

It is important that the countries of the European Union embrace the new Farm to Fork strategy, which, among others, promotes the drastically reduced pesticide use as a means of protecting public health, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and the adaptation to climate change.

[1] European Commission, Farm to Fork strategy, 2020. https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal/actions-being-taken-eu/farm-fork_el

[2] Hertz-Picciotto, I., Sass, J.B., Engel, S., Bennett, D.H., Bradman, A., Eskenazi, B., Lanphear, B. and Whyatt, R., 2018. Organophosphate exposures during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment: Recommendations for essential policy reforms. PLoS medicine15(10), p.e1002671.


Photo By: Julie Tinker