Pesticides Groß

Pe­sti­ci­des: Boon and Bane

Pe­sti­ci­des, a high­ly con­tro­ver­si­al to­pic. In one nar­ra­ti­ve re­gard­ed as plant pro­tec­tion, while in an­o­ther seen as to­xic che­mi­cals. In this ar­tic­le, we aim to cla­ri­fy what pe­sti­ci­des ac­tual­ly are, why they are even used, whe­re their risks lie, as well as how pe­sti­ci­des can be tes­ted and whe­re SICRIT can be of as­sis­tance in this re­gard.

What Are Pe­sti­ci­des Used for?

Pe­sti­ci­des re­fer to a va­rie­ty of dif­fe­rent sub­s­tances used as „plant pro­tec­tant“ or as bio­ci­des. They are used to pro­tect crop from harmful plants (her­bici­des), in­sects (in­sec­ti­ci­des), or fun­gi (fun­gi­ci­des). Wi­t­hout pe­sti­ci­des, food pro­duc­tion at the sca­le de­man­ded to­day would not be fe­a­si­ble. Re­du­ced crops in agri­cul­tu­ral pro­ducts would not only mean less fruits and ve­ge­ta­bles in the su­per­mar­kets but also a shorta­ge in va­rious pro­ces­sed pro­ducts.

The Dan­ger that Co­mes from Pe­sti­ci­des

While pe­sti­ci­des of­fer be­ne­fits such as hig­her yields, they also come with si­gni­fi­cant draw­backs. As to­xic che­mi­cals, they exert a con­sidera­ble im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment as well as the he­alth of ani­mals and hu­mans. No­ta­ble di­s­ad­van­ta­ges of pe­sti­ci­des are con­ta­mi­na­ted ground­wa­ter, the un­in­ten­ded kil­ling of un­harmful plants and ani­mals, lea­ding to a sub­stan­ti­al ne­ga­ti­ve dis­rup­ti­on of na­tu­ral eco­sys­tems and food chains. But also for hu­mans, pe­sti­ci­des pose a si­gni­fi­cant ha­zard, gi­ven their po­ten­ti­al for car­ci­no­ge­nic and other chro­nic di­se­a­ses. Ex­po­sure does­n’t only oc­cur in clo­se pro­xi­mi­ty to fields whe­re pe­sti­ci­des are ap­pli­ed or th­rough pri­va­te use in one’s gar­den. Ever­y­day food con­sump­ti­on can also ex­po­se in­di­vi­du­als to pe­sti­ci­de re­si­dues if they were used du­ring cul­ti­va­ti­on. Not all agri­cul­tu­ral pro­ducts be­have the same in this re­gard. Le­afy and fruit ve­ge­ta­bles, for ex­am­p­le, are ge­ne­ral­ly more sus­cep­ti­ble to re­si­dues com­pared to stur­dier root ve­ge­ta­bles.

To mi­ti­ga­te this risk of pe­sti­ci­de re­si­dues in food for con­su­mers, many count­ries have pre­cise gui­de­lines for their use. The EU’s pe­sti­ci­de po­li­cy in par­ti­cu­lar is one of the stric­test world­wi­de. The cru­cial fac­tor here is not only the spe­ci­fic pro­duct and the amount of the pe­sti­ci­de used but also a de­si­gna­ted wai­ting pe­ri­od bet­ween ap­pli­ca­ti­on and har­ve­s­t­ing, which even­tual­ly af­fects the pre­sence of re­si­dues in the fi­nal pro­duct.

In a com­pre­hen­si­ve ex­ami­na­ti­on of va­rious food samples by the Eu­ro­pean Uni­on, 96.1% fell wi­thin the le­gal­ly per­mis­si­ble li­mits. In­ves­ti­ga­ti­ons like this are cru­cial for re­gu­lar­ly mo­ni­to­ring the qua­li­ty of food, iden­ti­fy­ing pro­blem are­as, and ul­ti­m­ate­ly pro­tec­ting con­su­mer he­alth.

Ana­ly­sis of Pe­sti­ci­de Re­si­dues in Food

A ra­pid, re­lia­ble, and com­pre­hen­si­ve ana­ly­sis of re­si­dues in food is pro­vi­ded by so-cal­led mul­ti­me­thods. They al­low an ana­ly­sis of many dif­fe­rent pe­sti­ci­des si­mul­ta­neous­ly and can be ap­pli­ed to a wide va­rie­ty of pro­ducts. Long-es­tab­lished and of­fi­ci­al­ly re­co­gni­zed is the QuE­ChERS me­thod that stands for „Quick Easy Cheap Ef­fec­ti­ve Rug­ged Safe“ and al­re­a­dy reve­als its ad­van­ta­ges. It con­sists of a th­ree-step pro­cess that be­g­ins with the ex­tra­c­tion of samples using or­ga­nic sol­vent and con­ti­nues with sam­ple cle­a­nup. Fi­nal­ly, the re­si­dues con­tai­ned are quan­ti­fied using cou­pled gas or li­quid chro­ma­to­gra­phic se­pa­ra­ti­on and mass spec­tro­me­tric de­tec­tion (GC-MS/MS or LC-MS/MS).

Un­fort­u­na­te­ly, not all pe­sti­ci­des or ac­ti­ve in­gre­di­ents are ef­fec­tively cap­tu­red th­rough the QuE­ChERS me­thod. Par­ti­cu­lar­ly with po­lar sub­s­tances, this me­thod re­a­ches its li­mi­ta­ti­ons. At this point, sin­gle me­thods – spe­cia­li­zed pro­ce­du­res for spe­ci­fic sub­s­tances – are curr­ent­ly used. In our la­test Ap­pli­ca­ti­on Note, Plasmion’s LC-Mo­du­le was able to stand the test re­gar­ding its in­no­va­ti­ve aspect. To bridge the gap bet­ween the dif­fe­rent pe­sti­ci­de ana­ly­te clas­ses, and pro­vi­de a new per­spec­ti­ve on io­niza­ti­on with LC, the SICRIT® LC-Mo­du­le ta­kes the ad­van­ta­ges of the pre-exis­ting SICRIT® io­niza­ti­on source, con­ven­tio­nal­ly a gas-pha­se io­niza­ti­on tech­ni­que, and ap­pli­es it to an LC me­thod, al­lo­wing for soft io­niza­ti­on of both po­lar and non-po­lar com­pounds. This me­ans that with one sin­gle me­thod a broad spec­trum of pe­sti­ci­des can be co­ver­ed which makes pe­sti­ci­de ana­ly­sis and food qua­li­ty con­trol ea­sier and fas­ter. With in­no­va­ti­ve tech­no­lo­gies in this field not only hu­mans as con­su­mers can be pro­tec­ted, but na­tu­re and wild­life also be­ne­fit from im­pro­ving con­trol ap­proa­ches.

If you want to read more about this in­no­va­ti­ve me­thod, pro­ceed to the men­tio­ned Ap­pli­ca­ti­on Note here.