Testing for pesticides in strawberries

This is not a slanderous post. I have no problem with Rachel as a person (because I have never met her), but I do have a problem with an article Rachel and CHOICE published. This is merely a (hopefully intellectual) discussion on whether the article was science or not, and the issues it raises.

I have come across an article written by Rachel Clemons which makes some pretty bold statements for such poor scientific execution. Besides having a sample size that is too small to draw solid conclusions from, Rachel demonstrates a poor understanding of pesticides and the legislative requirements for different farming methods. She claims that Organic produce is not grown with pesticides, which is so incredibly false that it hurts my soul.

There were good aspects of the article, such as pointing out that the maximum residue limit is generous and therefore the abnormal levels detected were not of immediate serious health concern.

Regardless, it looks like more research needs to be conducted on the issue of lesser-regulated pesticide use in conventional and Organic farms.


I’m going to mention that I do not intend to have a pro-/anti- Organic debate. I don’t have the energy to argue against pseudoscience right now.

Hi @natural.thought,
Thanks for highlighting this one. The original article was written by another journalist in 2008, and Rachel has since taken responsibility for any questions that may arise (that’s why she’s listed in the byline). We’re going to review the article, and we’ll let you know the result.


Any info re pesticide residue in Strawberries will be gratefully received by me. I have resisted buying them because of lack of trusted info. many thanks in anticipation.


OK, I read the whole article, and I can’t see what your problem is. Can you be more specific?
It says " Independent testing has consistently found much lower levels of pesticide residues in organic than in conventionally grown produce.", which is the not the same as saying that the writer claims “Organic produce is not grown with pesticides,”

I would genuinely like to know what your objections are to this article.

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Perhaps the definition of pesticides under the act should be explained.
Pesticides are not only chemicals that kill pests, but also includes any lure, bait or deterrent , used in a commercial operation. So in fact cheese in a mouse trap is a lure and therefore a pesticide. Chilli, garlic fermented sprays are both detergents as well as having the ability to burn ( kill ) aphid. Applying blood and bone around the crop or in the crop to deter rabbits is also classed as a pesticide, however if it is used as fertilizer it is not classed as s pesticide, even if is deterring the rabbits.
Strawberries have long been at the top of the list for pesticide residue contamination, as they are very susceptible to insect pests and so viruses. Fungal disease can also be hard to manage, as well as soil borne diseases.
In the case of organically grown strawberries, the insect pests can be controlled by fermented Chilli & Garlic sprays, combined with Eco Oil.
The fungal and soil Bourne diseases can be controlled by microbial solutions such as EM ( Effective Microbes)
So yes organic farmers use pesticides, but not chemically manufactured pesticides

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Thank you cotsmagic, but having grown organically for 40 years I’m aware of the alternatives. Still confused about natural.thought’s post - where is the ‘pseudoscience’? Maybe natural.thought will reply and answer my question!

I will soon, hang on. Probably in a few days.

Hi @natural.thought,

We have reviewed the strawberry article and we agree we should have specified ‘synthetic’ pesticides when it comes to organic growers. The sample size reflected what was available from growers in supermarkets, farmers markets and grocers at the time of publication, but because it has been a number of years since the actual testing was carried out, we’ve decided to retire the article in its present form anyway. We would, however, be keen to revisit the issue of pesticide residues in fresh produce, and potentially carry out more testing, so it will be flagged with the content team for scheduling down the track.

Thanks for your honest feedback and we hope this address the issues you have raised.


Brendan, in any future residue testing in food, please include wheat, and products containing wheat such as bread.
Quite a few farmers spray their wheat crops with glyphosate (Roundup) to kill off the leafy matter, so they can get the grain harvested sooner. Recent revelations (although long suspected by many) that glyphosate is a carcinogen, should be a concern to all who consume products containing wheat.


Thanks for the suggestion @gordon , I’ll pass these on to our investigations team.

thanks, Gordon & Brendan for the conversation. My brother-in-law is an organic farmer in the UK. He explained to me that the use of glyphosate was a residue problem only when miss-used by farmers. In effect, they harvest too soon after spraying. As with everything, advise from those on the “ground” is about all we have to go on, as vested interests muddy the waters when it comes to the true dangers or otherwise of chemical use on foods.