Quibbling over food safety data

The government on Saturday played down a European Commission report showing that 20 percent of fresh fruit and vegetables sold in Greece two years ago contained traces of pesticides just under European Union safety limits, while a further 7 percent were found to be considerably over the limit. The latter figure is the second worst in the 15-nation union according to the report, which was published on Friday. Belgium topped the defaulters’ list at 8.6 percent, while Germany followed Greece at 5.5 percent. Austria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden had zero percent. Figures for Greece were provided by EU and Greek officials. Another report compiled by Greek officials alone set the dangerously high level of pesticides in raw fruit and vegetables at 6 percent. The same survey found that only 34 percent of processed fruit and vegetable products contained no trace of pesticides. But the Ministry of Agriculture said the samples that were «slightly over» safety levels formed 6 percent of the total, «when in other European countries that percentage is higher.» Turkey’s claim to have European orientation provides no guarantees for Greece since the fact that both states were NATO members did not prevent Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the continued occupation of the northern part of the island, nor Turkish expression of claims on the Aegean Sea, even though it has undoubtedly headed off an all-out war between Athens and Ankara.

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