JIS News

The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) has reported that a wider range of chemical residue has been found on imported vegetables, as compared with local vegetables.
News of the findings has come from Hyacinth Chin-Sue, Registrar at the PCA, who said that over the past two years, the PCA has been visiting supermarkets to obtain samples of both imported and local cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, among 15 types of vegetables, to test for levels of pesticide residue.
She further explained that the samples of both imported and local vegetables, which are usually labelled as such, were selected from each supermarket visited, and then sent to the Poly-Diagnostic Laboratory in Spanish Town and the Chemistry Department Laboratory at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
“While the screen results were limited, we were able to find that imported ones had a wider range of chemicals than the local ones,” Mrs. Chin-Sue told JIS News.
“We would love to have much wider screening to detect more chemicals,” she added.
There was a demand, the Registrar pointed out, for this kind of information from the consumer.
Furthermore, she said the eventual publication of the information could be used to protect the market for local producers of vegetables.
“If we had a proper system to detect undesirable levels of pesticides on imported foods, chances are we would import less than we are importing now, and this in turn, would increase the size of the market for local producers,” she informed.
Currently, the Registrar said that locally, there was little or no need for pesticides to grow most vegetables and fruits. “Take for example, otaheiti apple. We do not spray it .if you look at yams and other root crops, we normally do not apply pesticides to these crops in the field,” she said.
Singling out lettuce, Mrs. Chin Sue said that farmers “did not spray” this vegetable. However, in the case of the iceberg lettuce, which was produced abroad, there was the likelihood that chemicals were used in its cultivation.
As for fruits, she said that most locally grown fruits were not sprayed with pesticides. “I am pretty sure that if you were to compare pesticide residue on our local fruits with imported ones, our local fruits would be safer,” the Registrar said.
It was for this reason, she said, that the PCA first commenced examining vegetables rather than fruits. “We know in our mind that our local fruits are pretty safe,” she said. She noted that in the future, sampling would extend to imported fruits, which currently flowed in the country untested.”We have certain chemicals on fruits such as apples, that we need to target before consumption,” she pointed out.
To this end, Mrs. Chin Sue said that the PCA was in the process of establishing a committee, which would seek to determine the critical items that would be sampled annually.
This, she said, was a part of the plan of action for Jamaica, that would be officially launched at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston on June 30 at5:00 p.m. Minister of Health, John Junor will deliver the keynote address.
“Several persons are committed to setting up a programme, where we determine what products we are going to target,” the Registrar said, adding that chemicals would be identified and if the results were unacceptable, a ruling would be made as to whether the produce should be pulled from the shelves. In addition, they would also look at preventing recurrence based on the information gathered.
The PCA is the governing body mandated through the Pesticides Act of 1975 to carry out the regulation and control of pesticide usage in Jamaica.