Plant protection products & healthy crops
Farmers want to produce healthy crops with good yields so that they make a profit and can continue in business, whereas consumers can enjoy safe affordable food products prices. Farmers will normally use:
- Fertilisers (usually a combination of N, P and K) to make sure that crops have the nutrients needed for a good yield
- Herbicides (weedkiller) to help reduce competition for resources so that the crop thrives
- Fungicides, which help to protect crops from attack by disease such as mildew and fusarium, which can both damage the crop quality and reduce the yield
- Pesticides, which may be used if crops are attacked by slugs or insects such as aphids. However, these tend to be used only when there is a risk of major attack
Collectively these products are known as plant protection products and they play a very important part in ensuring that crops are available of the correct quality and in sufficient quantity for millers, bakers and consumers.
"The lowest % of samples exceeding the MRL for wheat flour"
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published its scientific report on the EU Report on Pesticide Residues in Food in June 2014. This large document summarises the results of the control activities related to pesticide residues in food.
In its summary, EFSA states that “The lowest percentage of samples exceeding the maximum residue level (MRL) was identified for wheat flour (0.3 %)”.
For many years, European flour millers have participated in European-wide controls that test grain and flour for the presence of pesticide residues. The proportion containing residues has continued to fall as agronomic practice advances, and when found, residues are normally at a very low level. In recent years the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) has rarely been exceeded in grain, and then only when the MRL has been set at the limit of detection for the compound concerned.