Is wine a pest?


A recent French study which found chemical residues in wines was nothing to worry about, says the scientist who conducted the trial. The lead author, Pascal Chatonnet, of Excell laboratory in Bordeaux, said the results were misrepresented, and in fact the residues were too small to have an effect on drinkers. However, he said vineyard workers were being exposed to a significant health risk. Dr Chatonnet told Wine Spectator Online that people take in more pesticide residue eating apples and strawberries than drinking wine.

His research, which I reported here on March 5, found 90 per cent of 325 French wines analysed showed traces of molecules related to pesticides and fungicides. However, he says none of the molecules were known carcinogens and the vast majority of wines had levels significantly below legal limits. Only 0.3 per cent of wines failed to meet regulations.

Ten per cent had no residue at all. Chatonnet said his research was aimed at lobbying authorities to test not only grapes, but wine, for pesticide residues and to draw attention to the number of chemicals used in viticulture. He is concerned that a combination of molecules could be more dangerous than a single molecule; also that the accumulation of molecules may pose risks. 

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