Petition

Supermarkets: Stop the toxic harvest!

  • Pesticides
Filippo Letizi

Do you really know what's in your bread? On half of Europe's land grains are grown, but many are soaked with chemicals, endangering insects and plants and leaving pesticide residues in our food. Despite their "eco-friendly" promises, not a single supermarket has a policy against toxic grains! Together as consumers, we urge supermarkets to ensure that bread, flour, and muesli are sold without pesticides! We demand toxin-free grains!

Petition

Supermarkets: Stop the toxic harvest!

  • Pesticides
Filippo Letizi

Do you really know what's in your bread? On half of Europe's land grains are grown, but many are soaked with chemicals, endangering insects and plants and leaving pesticide residues in our food. Despite their "eco-friendly" promises, not a single supermarket has a policy against toxic grains! Together as consumers, we urge supermarkets to ensure that bread, flour, and muesli are sold without pesticides! We demand toxin-free grains!

Dear supermarkets, 

Our environment and its biodiversity are in crisis due to the harmful effects of pesticides. Of all pesticides sprayed in European agriculture, a huge amount is used in grain crops. 
As a supermarket, you have the power to make a difference by implementing a sustainable procurement policy that promotes the elimination of pesticides in the production of grain-based products, such as bread and breakfast cereals.  
 
I urge you to take the following actions: 

  • Commit to making the entire range of cereal and grain products pesticide-free. 
  • Implement a procurement policy prioritizing “pesticide-free” grain products. 
  • Ensure transparency throughout the process by annually publishing data indicating which products are produced pesticide-free and which are not. 

 
Pesticide-free production of wheat is possible. All tools for this transition are available and are not costly to implement. It’s time for action! 
 
Kind regards

Your first name & surname, place and comment, if given (will be completed automatically)

Germany

  • EDEKA, Rolf Lange, Head of Public Affairs
  • REWE, Pia Schnück, Head of Sustainability
  • Aldi Süd, Dr. Julia Adou, Director Corporate Sustainability
  • Aldi Nord, Erik Hollmann, Director Corporate Responsibility
  • Lidl. Amali Bunter, Head of Sustainability at Lidl Germany

Netherlands

  • Albert Heijn, CEO: Marit van Egmond
  • Aldi Netherlands, CEO: Jan Oostvogels
  • Coop and Plus, CEO: Duncan Hoy
  • Dekamarkt, CEO: Bart Oprel
  • Dirk van den Broek, managing director: Marcel Huizing
  • Jumbo, General Manager: Ralph Bertrand
  • Lidl Netherlands, Managing Director: Marcel Oosterwijk
  • Spar Holding Netherlands, CEO: John van der Ent
  • Vomar, General Manager: Aart van Haren

France

  • Super u Manager, Dominique Schelcher
  • Leclerc Manager, Michel Edouard Leclerc
  • Director of LIDL, Michel Biero
  • Director Carrefour, Alexandre Bompard
  • Director Casino - Monoprix, Jean Charles Naouri
  • Director of Les Mousquetaires - Intermarché  & Netto, Gwenn Van Ooteghem

Background information

Pesticides are chemicals that are used in farming to control diseases, pests, weeds and other organisms. There are several different categories of pesticides, depending on their purpose:  

  • insecticides (these substances kill: insects)
  • herbicides (these substances kill: weeds)
  • fungicides (these substances kill: disease-causing fungi)
     

Approximately 50% of Europe’s farmland, a total of 52 million hectares, is used for growing cereal crops like wheat and maize. Each cropped hectare receives four to six pesticide treatments over the course of the growing season. 1

According to data from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), one third of all cereal products contain pesticides. Pesticide residues were found in nearly 90% of the bread rolls (that were tested in Ireland). Overall, flour, rolled oats and bread showed a higher incidence of contamination than unprocessed whole grains. 

Out of 2,234 cereal product samples, 837 were found to have traces of one or more pesticides (37%). The contaminated samples contained 1,215 residues from 65 different pesticides. Of these, 18 residues in 14 samples exceeded the maximum residue limits (MRL). Ibid.

An investigation of 20 food retailers in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland found that many of these companies use the issue of biodiversity to market their products (e.g. through product labels and programmes). However, none of the investigated retailers had a biodiversity strategy that included cereal production. The Swiss supermarket chain Migros is the only retailer with a programme for pesticide-free cereals. Ibid.

foodwatch is calling for the complete phasing-out of pesticide use in the EU and has already presented a comprehensive, step-by-step plan for achieving this aim. 2

Cereal crops account for the lion’s share of pesticide use in Germany. This is why foodwatch is asking European supermarkets to use their market power for the good of consumers and stop selling bread rolls, flours etc. made from pesticide-treated cereals. 
 

[1] foodwatch, The Dark Side of Grain: Unmasking Pesticide Use in Cereal Crops, 10.10.2023.

[2] foodwatch,  Locked-in pesticides - Europe’s dependency on harmful pesticides and how to overcome it,  30.06.2022.

foodwatch started the petition on 10.10.2023.

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