pesticide organic

What’s the price to pay for a perfect apple? Cancer, apparently. Pesticides are silent killers and should be banned, warn many.

It’s easy to buy into the argument. Pesticide is a scary word, up there with Nazi and torture, but Rip Off Britain (BBC1, 7.30pm, 21 July) asked if pesticides were “key to keeping prices low and quality high”.

The rise of organic shows some people will pay a little more for something a little less beautiful, but the show claimed commercially grown apples were sprayed “18 times a year” with “30 different fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and growth regulators”.

“I’m not 100% comfortable with that,” said Janet from Kent, who grows her own on an allotment. Neither am I. Campaigners go further, claiming even minute residues of pesticides can cause cancer.

So the show took a basket of muddy vegetables from Janet’s allotment and lab-tested them against a “non-organic” basket of identical ingredients purchased at a mystery supermarket.

The results? Well, Janet’s basket got a 100% clean bill of health. As for the supermarket, only one product, some raspberries, contained a single trace of residue that, according to “public analyst” Jon Griffin, was so minute it barely registered. “More than acceptable,” he concluded.

Thank goodness. Everything’s fine. Or is it? Griffin also warned he’s tested products that were way above acceptable levels, which could have caused cancer. Which leaves me less than 100% confident all over again. Where’s my spade?