Those of us who are part of the organic movement are painfully aware of the hazards of pesticides in our foods. Because we perceive tea to be a healthy beverage, we might not think about pesticides being associated with the produce. With conventionally grown tea however, pesticides are a concern that consumers need to be aware of. I came across a disturbing article written by Dan Bolton that underlines these concerns.
It appears that the tea grown in India for domestic use has significant amounts of pesticide residue in it. “During the period June 2013 through May 2014 Greenpeace sampled 49 branded packaged teas from 8 of the top 11 companies that market domestically. Many of these companies also export tea to Russia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the United States and Canada.
A total of 34 pesticides were found in 46 of the 49 samples and 29 of the total contained residue indicating a cocktail of more than 10 different pesticides had been applied. One sample contained residues of 20 different pesticides, some of which are banned.” Perhaps of even greater concern was that some of the samples contained pesticides that have been widely banned, such as DDT and Monocroptophos, which is reported to be an extremely hazardous organophosphorus pesticide.
I think what disturbs me the most is that these multinational tea companies know that they can’t get away with distributing these toxic tea internationally – but can do so within their domestic markets. It’s unconscionable to poison their own people for reasons of financial gain. How can we continue to support companies that flagrantly disregard the health of their consumers? My hope is that this exposure will force these tea companies to do the right thing. Why should there be different standards for exported tea verses teas for the domestic market? Ultimately moving toward healthy and sustainable agricultural practices is the long term solution. Omitting pesticides entirely is a wonderful goal and research is confirming that there are affordable ways to accomplish this.
We have seen this kind of disregard in the financial markets in this country. The U.S. has suffered tremendously because of the greed of the banking/financial/housing/mortgage industry. Let’s not allow our health to be compromised because of similar financial greed. Obviously drinking a cup of conventionally grown tea periodically isn’t going to kill anyone. Drinking a cup of tea which has pesticide residue in it, everyday, over weeks, months and years will accumulate in our bodies and will cause harm to our systems. Knowledge is power.