To grow hazelnuts, farmers in Chile use pesticides that have long been banned in the EU. The nuts still reach us in Europe by the ton – for example in the form of Nutella. How dangerous is the pesticide in the nuts?
Nutella, Hanuta, Duplo and so on – the confectionery company Ferrero needs incredible amounts of hazelnuts for its products. When it comes to hazelnut cream, Nutella is the undisputed market leader in Germany. A large proportion of hazelnuts come from Chile. A highly toxic pesticide that is banned in Europe is used there: paraquat. “Hazelnuts” with pesticides” was the topic of “Weltspiegel” at the weekend.
Paraquat pesticide: Legal in Chile
The use of the agricultural poison paraquat is banned in Europe, but it can be used legally in Chile. According to research by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), the total herbicide is sprayed on the Ferrero hazelnut plantations in Chile. The article in Weltspiegel shows empty paraquat canisters on the plantations. The drug is highly toxic: According to PAN, paraquat can lead to kidney failure, shortness of breath or damage to vision and liver. Skin injuries and damage to the embryo in the womb are also associated with the poison. In addition to paraquat, glyphosate is also used: signs on Ferrero’s company-owned plantations in Chile warn of the pesticide.
Legally, the case is clear: the weed killer can be used in Chile. Paraquat must no longer be detectable in the finished products that can then be bought in Europe.
The world mirror has asked Ferrero for a statement. Ferrero shared that their raw materials are tested for plant toxins: “All hazelnuts are (…) analyzed for possible contaminants such as paraquat (…). So far, no residues have been found.” Our past analyzes confirm this: According to our experience and that of our laboratory, which specializes in pesticide analyses, agricultural toxins rarely get into the nuts. Nutella was analyzed by TEST in March 2018 for paraquat: residues could not be verified by the laboratory.
What are the consequences of using pesticides on people in Chile?
Even if the sprayed hazelnuts do not necessarily make us sick, the highly toxic agent is a great danger for the people who work on the plantations or live near them. Schools are often located right next to the fields where pesticides are used, without a safe distance. According to Weltspiegel, school principals are already sounding the alarm and complaining about major learning difficulties among the students. In addition, the agricultural toxins are suspected of being carcinogenic.
Scientists are calling for a ban on the suspected pesticides. In an open letter to Ferrero, the TAZ explains: “It’s not about residues in the end product – it’s about your corporate responsibility in the supply chain and the avoidance of cancer among plantation workers and residents.” We also think: It should only be approved in Europe pesticides are used. In addition, the controversial weed killer glyphosate should finally be banned.