This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
A laboratory test on 92 bottles of French wine found traces of these chemicals in every bottle, reports consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir. Pesticides were even found in bottles of wine made from organically grown grapes, but the levels were much lower than that in the nonorganic wine.
Although the results were “well below” the maximum residue limits set by the European Union (EU) for wine grapes before fermentation, no toxicity limits have been set for bottled wine, a shortcoming the UFC-Que Choisir considers bizarre. The wine production industry in France involves 3.7 percent of the country’s farmland and 20 percent of its pesticide use.
According to Que Choisir, when you drink a glass of wine, “you have every chance of unknowingly swallowing a few micrograms of these pesticide residues.” No wine produced in today’s industry can escape the pollution of plant protection products applied to the grapes, the consumer organization adds.
Among the pesticides found were an insecticide and fungicide not permitted in the EU. The testing showed the nonorganic wines contained an average of four pesticides, which were mainly fungicides; while organic wines mainly contained one or two pesticides.
Why were pesticides found in organic wines? Que Choisir notes the chemicals could be in the environment from spraying in neighboring vineyards.
The Possible Health Risks
The adverse effects of drinking one or two glasses of wine each day containing trace amounts of these chemicals is hard to gage in a precise way. Health risk evaluations for pesticides usually do not take into account cumulative effects, states Que Choisir.
Dr. Michael Wald, Director of Nutritional Services at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, expressed his concern over the report and listed possible health risks of ingesting pesticides through drinking wine. These include skin irritation and digestive problems in addition to impaired memory and brain health. The immune system can be impaired, manifesting in immune deficiency as well as autoimmune problems. Other possible effects are neurological issues such as headaches, fatigue, brain fog, muscle weakness and neuropathy.
“High dose exposure is certainly associated with many health problems, but low exposure over one’s lifetime can increase the risk of cancer, autoimmune diseases and reduce quality of life,” Wald says. “Different pesticides may cause different health issues. It is nearly impossible to study the effects upon individuals because we all are exposed and we have seen a rise in degenerative diseases.”
Look for This Label
Earlier this year, Dr. Andrew Weil, noted holistic health teacher and writer, spoke with Véronique Raskin, president of The Organic Wine Company, about how to find wines that do not contain chemicals. She noted that grapes are “one of the most heavily sprayed crops” and advised people to look for a label that says “made from 100 percent certified organically grown grapes.” These wines contain small quantities of sulfites, but this should not pose a problem unless the person drinking them has asthma, Raskin said. Those with asthma should avoid this beverage completely.