Most U.S. Apples Coated With Chemical Banned in Europe
A chemical widely used on non-organic American apples was banned in the European Union in 2012 because its makers could not show it did not pose a risk to human health, according to a new analysis by Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Photo credit: Shutterstock
In the U.S., as few Americans may realize, after harvest, farmers and packers drench most conventionally-raised apples with diphenylamine, known as DPA, which helps prevent “storage scald,” blackening or browning of fruit skin during long months of cold storage. DPA was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1962. Tests of raw apples conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, found DPA on 80 percent of the apples tested.
“While it is not yet clear that DPA is risky to public health, European Commission officials asked questions that the chemicals’ makers could not answer,” said EWG senior scientist Sonya Lunder. “The EC officials banned outright any further use of DPA on the apples cultivated in the European Union until they are confident it is safe. Europe’s action should cause American policymakers to take a new look at this chemical.”
USDA pesticide residue tests of apples find DPA more often and at greater concentrations than most other pesticide residues. DPA is also detected in apple juice and applesauce and, less often, on pears and in pear baby food. It is regulated as a pesticide, but its primary function is a “growth regulator” or antioxidant that slows fruit skin discoloration during storage.
Of particular concern to EC officials was the possible presence on DPA-treated fruit of nitrosamines, a family of potent carcinogens.
European regulators theorized that nitrosamines could be generated if DPA combined, either during storage or when fruit was processed, with a source of nitrogen, an element ubiquitous in the environment. Beginning in 2008, they pressed makers of DPA for test data that showed whether nitrosamines or other harmful chemicals formed when containers of DPA sat on shelves, when fruit was treated with DPA and stored for a long time and when DPA-treated fruit was processed into juices, purees and sauces (EFSA 2008). The industry provided one study that detected three unknown chemicals on DPA-treated apples, but it could not determine if any of these chemicals, apparently formed when the DPA broke down, were nitrosamines.
In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority, a government body that evaluates the risk of pesticides for the European Commission, concluded that the industry had not provided sufficient information and that the many data gaps made it impossible to confirm the safety of DPA. The full Commission banned the use of DPA on European apples and pears in June 2012. In March of this year, the EC reduced the allowable level of DPA on imports to 0.1 part per million. The average concentration of DPA on U.S. apples is roughly four times higher at 0.42 parts per million.
The U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) has taken no action to respond to the European ban and nor to the concerns about nitrosamines expressed by European food safety officials. This year, scientists in the U.S. EPA Pesticide Office tasked with pesticide safety reviews told EWG they were unaware of the new European ban and import restrictions.
“Americans, particularly parents of young children, deserve the same level of concern from our government,” said Lunder. “Apples, apple juice and applesauce are staples in the diets of millions of children, so if there are potential risks to kids from DPA, we need to know now.”
EWG’s analysis of DPA and apples says that, according to USDA, Americans eat nearly 10 pounds per person of fresh apples every year. Consequently, even low levels of nitrosamines on raw apples, or in apple juice and applesauce could potentially pose a risk to human health.
Researchers with USDA’s Pesticide Data Program consistently find multiple pesticides on apple samples, including DPA. As a result, apples have appeared at or near the top of EWG’s Dirty Dozen list in the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce since it was first published more than a decade ago. The 2014 Shopper’s Guide will be released next week.
EWG president Ken Cook sent a letter today to the head of the pesticide office at U.S. EPA urging the agency to follow Europe’s lead. “The American public deserves the same level of protection as Europeans from pesticide risks,” wrote Cook. “We urge EPA to halt the use of DPA on U.S. fruit until a rigorous analysis (re-registration) by EPA of the chemical can prove that it poses a reasonable certainty of no harm to consumers.”
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
The United States passed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday and experts warn that number may double before the end of the year as an autumn surge in cases starts, according to USA Today.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help ... ›
- Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Flea and More Featured on Just Released ... ›
- Musicians and Activists Unite at 'Pathway to Paris' - EcoWatch ›
A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.
- Supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam Swap Plastic Packaging for ... ›
- Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It ... ›
- Thailand Begins the New Year With Plastic Bag Ban - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Worsens Thailand's Plastic Waste Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Marium, Thailand's Beloved Baby Dugong, Is the Latest Victim of ... ›
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
- 7 Republicans Joined Senate Democrats in Vote to Fight Climate ... ›
- Climate Change Acknowledged by Increasing Number of ... ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›