Fruits and Vegetables in Belize’s Markets Tested for Pesticide Residues?
Currently Belize has no regular testing system for pesticide residues of fruits and vegetables sold in our stores and markets. Belize law does not mandate any pesticides residue testing of our foods, so there is no way to declare that they are safe or not. Belize products sold for export must meet the demands of the importing country, usually including pesticide residue testing. Importers bringing produce into Belize however, do not need to have any pesticide residue testing done. Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, a country cannot impose restrictions on imported goods which are not required for the same domestic goods. Thus, in order to mandate pesticide residue testing of imported fresh fruits and vegetables, Belize would need to have mandatory residue testing for domestic produce.
Pesticide residue testing is very costly and time-consuming. Belize Agriculutural Health Authority (BAHA) has the competency and willingness to perform these tests. Many pesticides used for produce have a waiting period between application and harvest time. The Belize Pesticides Control Board (PCB) has one of the best regional systems in place for licensing and training pesticide handlers. However, without regular market testing we have no way to insure that best management practices are followed by growers. Pesticide importations into Belize continue to rise. Do Belizean consumers want to know if their fresh fruits and vegetables are uncontaminated? Maybe it’s time for Belizeans to express their concerns to vendors and ministers of agriculture and health.