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Study finds harmful Residues in 90% French Wines

Posted: Monday, 25 February 2013 15:29

Study finds harmful Residues in 90% French Wines

Feb 25: A French study testing 300 French wines has found that 90% of the wines had harmful pesticide residues left from the chemical treatment of vines, although the levels were below the threshold of toxicity, suggesting more such studies and perhaps sending a recommendatory message favouring drinking organic and biodynamic wines though the researchers insist that vineyard workers are more affected by the harmful chemicals.

Excell laboratory in Bordeaux tested more than 300 wines from the 2009 and 2010 vintages of Bordeaux, Rhone, and the greater Aquitaine region, including appellations such as Madiran and Gaillac.

Wines were tested for 50 different molecules found in a range of vine treatments, such as pesticides and fungicides. Some wines contained up to nine separate molecules. The 'anti-rot' fungicides often applied late in the growing season were the most commonly found molecules, says Decanter.

According to the lead researcher Pascal Chatonnet of Excell, ‘Even though the individual molecules were below the threshold levels of toxicity, there is a worrying lack of research into the accumulation effect, and how the molecules interact with each other. What might be of concern is that 'It is possible that the presence of several molecules combined is more harmful than a higher level of a single molecule,’ according to the report quoting him.

Vineyards represent only 3% of agricultural land in France, but the wine industry accounts for  80% of fungicides used. Since 2008, France has aimed to cut pesticide use by 50% by 2018. However, till 2012, there had been no reduction is the usage, in fact, there was a small rise of 2.7% between 2010 and 2011, according to the report.

To the chagrin if Indian grape exporters who have faced rejection of some consignments due to the prescribed limits, EU rules limit pesticide residues on grapes to 250 molecules. However, there are no limits set for wine. 'Some molecules will break down during the process of fermentation, and we need more research into the synthesis process.’  

At the outset, it would appear that there might be a gradual shift to the consumption of organic and biodynamic wines which do not use such chemicals. But the researchers clarify and stress that it is not the consumers who would be affected, but the vineyard workers who are applying the treatments.

Last year, the French government had officially recognised a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease in agricultural workers. Neurologists at UCLA discovered a connection between the pesticide ‘Benomyl’  (also marketed as Benlate-introduced by DuPont in 1968 but now produced by other producers as well) and Parkinson’s disease.

Tags: Bordeaux,Rhone,Aquitaine,Madiran,Gaillac

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