What is Dimethoate?
Its scientific name is 2-dimethoxy-phosphinothioylthio-N-methylacetamide and it is a pesticide designed to eliminate insects (insecticide) as well as mites (acaricide).
This product, marketed since 1948, is "broad spectrum". That is to say that it is not selective and that it eliminates a maximum of types of insects and mites.
In seventy years, dimethoate has been used for many purposes precisely because of this broad spectrum that allows it to eliminate a wide variety of insects. In agriculture, be it in cereal plantations, in orchards but also on livestock to fight against parasites.
It has also been widely used in the home, as it was found in "fly killers" bombs, which were very popular at one time.
It was not until the year 2000 that authorizations for non-agricultural use were lifted, and since then the regulations surrounding this product have been constantly reinforced.
Why ban the pesticide Dimethoate?
This pesticide acts by attacking the nervous system of its targets. Unfortunately, it also has effects on humans.
For the European Food Safety Authority, the genotoxic potential of dimethoate "could not be ruled out", while its main metabolite (molecule resulting from its degradation), omethoate, has been classified as an "in vivo mutagenic agent".
« Le diméthoate est classé très toxique, nocif et dangereux. »
On the difficulty of not letting pesticides, even banned ones, reach the consumer
In 2016, the French authorities decided to ban the use of Dimethoate in agriculture. Cherry growers in particular had cried foul because they were left at the mercy of Asian flies attacking their plantations.
In 2019, Europe will follow France's lead by no longer authorizing the use of this molecule within the EU.
But at the same time the maximum residue limits of this pesticide on fruit were not lowered to zero.
Importers therefore rushed into the breach, bringing in fruit from outside the EU that had been treated with the now-banned pesticide but were cheaper than those produced locally.
This was a double whammy for farmers and consumers alike. Rising cost prices for horticulturists, unfair competition from abroad, and rising retail prices unless you consume fruit treated with a substance so harmful that it is banned.
It was not until the 2021 harvest that a European restriction came into force that no longer tolerates traces of Dimethoate on fruit and put an end to this ubuesque situation.
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