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JIS News

The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) has reported that its inspectors have been finding pesticide residue on imported strawberries.
In fact, samples tested from three consecutive shipments, have consistently shown some form of chemical residue, said Hyacinth Chin Sue, Registrar of the Pesticides Control Authority.
“The number one problem right now is strawberries.without any question,” Mrs. Chin Sue said at a recent JIS Think Tank. She further disclosed that, “we also found some on imported sweet peppers recently, but the levels were not alarming”.
She told JIS News that, “the persons now importing strawberries are very aware of this and they have already told us that they are prepared to no longer import strawberry if that trend continues”. Outlining the process of collecting and testing fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue, the PCA Registrar explained that each Tuesday, when the bulk of the produce arrived in the country, an inspector would visit the port and collect two samples from containers. The Pesticide Residue Monitoring Committee, which acts as an advisory council under the ambit of the PCA, makes the decision as to which samples are taken.
These two samples are then submitted to the laboratory at the University of the West Indies, Mona for analysis. “We have a set of results coming out every week,” Mrs. Chin Sue informed.
She noted that the committee was not able to test large volumes of produce because of limited laboratory capacity. “We have worked out so far that we can do two samples, if we are going to deliver the results in 24 hours. It is also not wise for us to detain a container on the wharf for more than 24 hours. This will affect the shelf life of the fruits and vegetables,” she pointed out.
The Registrar told JIS News however, that the PCA was in the process of preparing a proposal to improve laboratory capability to handle a much larger scope of sampling. She noted further, that there was need to create a pesticide residue laboratory apart from the one being used at the university.
“We have to make the country realize the necessity to make this kind of investment,” she said. “We need to present a picture of readiness for the changes in world trade because with the European Union implementing its strict regulations as they relate to the importation of food, there will be implications for Jamaica,” she added.
In the meantime, the Pesticide Residue Monitoring Committee will publish a report on the data collected from sampling.
The Committee was established in 2004 out of the Caribbean Agro-chemical Management Project (CAMP), which was developed to promote one of 10 key prioritized recommendations emanating from a research project on the Impact and Amelioration of Sediment and Agro-chemical Pollution in Caribbean Coastal Waters.