The use of synthetic pesticides is not allowed in organic production, but traces of synthetic pesticides are regularly detected in organic food. To safeguard the integrity of organic production, organic certifiers are obliged to investigate the causes for pesticide residues on organic food, entailing high costs to the organic sector. Such residues can have various origins, including both fraud and unintentional contamination from the environment. Because the knowledge about contamination from environmental sources is scattered, this review provides an overview of pathways for unintentional and technically unavoidable contamination of organic food with synthetic pesticides in Europe.
The objective of this study is to show the environmental context in which organic farmers, producers and traders operate and to help build a fair approach for the handling of residues in organic products.