The Good Food Good Farming Pesticide Check-up

 As decision-makers consider the future of pesticide regulation in the EU, Good Food Good Farming is running a citizen science project inviting citizens to do a “Pesticide Check-up” by getting their hair tested for pesticides. The project is open to participation until June 30. 

By Wiebke Beushausen & Ronja Dietschmann of Good Food Good Farming

This year, the EU will make vital decisions on pesticide use. In May 2020, the EU released the Farm to Fork strategy – which could play a significant role in transforming our food systems. One of the strategy´s targets includes the reduction of pesticide use in the EU by 50% until 2030. However, this target is not legally binding and is being challenged by national governments and the agrochemical lobby. Currently, the EU revises their pesticide regulations – but these face the danger to be far less ambitious than EU citizens wish!

Now is the time to demonstrate our demands to EU decision-makers: we want their binding commitment to the pesticide reduction target and ambitious and legally binding regulations.

Pesticides are everywhere – how much is hiding in your hair?

Pesticides are sprayed on agricultural fields and in greenhouses as well as in forest areas, open green spaces like gardens and parks. Their residues persist on the surface of plants, in rivers, lakes, groundwater and the soil. Through contact or ingestion, pesticides travel up the food chain and endanger insects or pollinators, fish, birds, small mammals and other wildlife species. Pesticides are everywhere. It therefore comes as no surprise: through the food you eat and the air you breathe, pesticides could hide in your body, too.

To raise awareness about the negative impacts of pesticides on human health and the environment, Good Food Good Farming (GFGF) initiated the Pesticide CheckUp!. This citizens-science project invites EU-citizens to get their hair tested for 30 different pesticide residues. The sent-in hair-samples are analysed by an independent laboratory in France. With the campaign, we demand better pesticide legislation for healthy food and farming systems.

To mobilise people across Europe for the Pesticide-CheckUp, GFGF is working together with partner organisations in 10 different EU countries that promote the campaign in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland.

How can you get your hair tested?

Everyone who is interested in participating in the Pesticide-CheckUp is welcome to join! You can order a test-kit here. There are two options:

  • you pay only 15 euros for a subsidised test (covers material costs only, not the analysis). You receive a test-kit and send in your strand of hair. GFGF pays for the analysis of your hair depending on our financial capacities (we are quite confident to cover a lot of the tests, but cannot promise 100% your test will be analysed).
  • if you want to be sure that your test gets analysed and have the financial means to support us, you pay 150 euros to cover your own test-kit and analysis at the laboratory. You will receive a test-kit, send in your strand of hair and receive your individual test result later.

Once you complete your order (15 or 150 euros), you will receive the test-kit from the laboratory directly by post. The test-kit includes instructions on how to cut the hair – it is a simple procedure. Check out this video on how to conduct the test.

The test-kit also includes a short questionnaire that asks you to answer a few questions about yourself and where you live, or what you eat. The data you provide will be used exclusively for the purpose of the report statistics. Then, the participants only have to send back the envelope with their hair to the laboratory by mail. The postage fee is already covered.

Edoardo Prestanti, mayor of Carmignano, a pesticide-free town in Tuscany

The urgency of pesticide reduction

Together we raise our voices for healthier food and farming systems that protect our biodiversity. We need policies that ensure a drastic reduction of synthetic pesticides in EU agriculture and support farmers in their uptake to more sustainable farming methods. We need to prevent politicians from letting more time slip away. EU politicians have to deliver policies to drastically reduce pesticide use in agriculture to guarantee the health of people, nature and soils and ensure the survival of insects, especially pollinators that are essential to our food system. Many farmers successfully demonstrate that producing safe and healthy food without synthetic pesticides is possible. We are many, and together with scientists, cooks, bakers, beekeepers and many more, we demand a detox of EU agriculture!

More information on the #PesticideCheckUp can be found on the Good Food Good Farming website. The GFGF Pesticide Check Up campaign runs until June 30, 2022. Get your pesticide test kit ASAP to participate in this citizen science action.

By Wiebke Beushausen & Ronja Dietschmann of Good Food Good Farming. 

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