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Do you pay more for organic? You might be paying for pesticides

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Many people are willing to pay a little extra for organic fruits and vegetables, to ensure their food is free of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. But the CBC has discovered some organic produce in Canada actually does contain pesticides.

Documents from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, obtained by CBC News, reveal nearly 24 per cent of the 178 organic apples that were tested in 2009 and 2010 contained pesticide residue. Moreover, many of the 112 individual produce samples tested from 2010 to 2011 contained more than one type of pesticide residue.

Organic apples found to have pesticide residue contained an average of 0.03 parts per million of the fungicide thiabedazole, compared with conventional apples that contain an average of 0.4 parts per million of the fungicide, the CBC said.

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There are a number of ways pesticide residue can get onto organic produce, such as through spray drift or through the soil from conventional farms.

Matthew Holmes, executive director of the Canadian Organic Trade Association, told the broadcaster the pesticide contamination likely occurs during packing and processing, after harvest.

"It's a concern for us. From the organic perspective, we'd like people to keep their chemicals to themselves," he said.

But he said the test results from the food inspection agency are no cause for alarm.

"Data has shown consistently that organic produce has much lower incidence of pesticides than non-organic, and so we're not seeing any big red flags out there right now," he said.

Would you be less likely to buy organic if your groceries contained small amounts of pesticides?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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