Alarm over toxic oranges

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Research has found that oranges grown in Thailand are toxic as they are full of chemicals that are above safe levels for human consumption.

The Consumer Foundation and Oxfam of Thailand (OXFAM) both warn that Thai citrus contains hazardous chemical residue that exceeds the normal level of toxicity for humans. This affects human health and is harmful to the environment as well.

The Pesticide Warning Network reported that it found that one orange contains 55 types of chemicals, an average of 0.364 milligrams, which exceeds the Safety Standard (MRL) by 28 residual chemicals as a discharge that cannot be washed off.

Substance such as carbendazim can result to congenital and impaired fertility. Carbofuran is another characteristic that is toxic to the brain cells and sex hormones while the acetamiprid affects the brain and nervous system. The network reported that this result came from random testing of oranges sold in Thai supermarkets and 100 per cent of which were found contain toxic residues.

Ms Thanita Wongprasert, campaign officer of OXFAM Thailand introduced Orange Spike, a campaign to promote better awareness in consumers about chemical residues in oranges and mandarins grown here.

The campaign calls for farmers to stop the use toxic chemicals to enhance the growth or size of a crop. It urges supermarkets to start using effective product-tracing process to be able to monitor better where the safe oranges come from.

One effective tracing system is to use QR Code stickers pasted on the oranges that have been tested as toxic-free and organic. Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Thailand, Giuseppe Busini, said promoting sustainability towards healthy eating is a key policy strategy of the EU.

He said “Farm to Fork” and European Green Deal, introduced earlier this year, are vital policies to ensure healthy and environmentally friendly food management and increased organic agriculture production.

Ms Kingkorn Naritorakul Na Ayudhya, a representative of “Eat Change the World Network” and the BIOTHAI Foundation, said oranges and mandarins are a high-value industrial crop with a large supply chain and a big part of Thai agriculture.

Normally a seasonal crop grown four months the year from December to March, the high demand for the fruit throughout the year forces farmers to rely on crop chemicals to be able to produce enough to supply the market.

Ms Kingkorn said these different chemicals are used from planting seed and throughout all stages of growth until harvest. So chemicals have been absorbed in the roots, stem, skin and the pulp of the fruit. Pesticides are also sprayed every week in the year.

As buyers prefer large, smooth and shiny oranges, supermarkets buy these for their shelves. But consumers have the right to know where the fruits come from and that they are safe to eat, Ms Kingkorn said.

Orange Spike campaign urges the public to sign a petition at the website http://www. dearconsumers.com/th/petition to demand that supermarket put QR Code on the oranges to identify organic toxic-free oranges and mandarins.

The campaign aims to collect 20,000 signatures to pressure supermarkets to respond to consumer concerns about toxic oranges. For those of you who loves the fruit, just don’t be discouraged as yet because there are many farms nowadays that produces organic oranges and are not hard to find at all.

Reported by: Visa Chimdee | Hua Hin Today

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