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Science

Sources of harmful chemicals

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Pesticides and herbicides

Some of the chemicals used in farming may remain on or in the food we eat. These may cause us harm.

Photograph showing a crop-spraying vehicle in a field of oil seed rape

Spraying a crop of oil seed rape with insecticide

Farmers spray pesticidespesticides: chemicals used to kill insects, weeds and microorganisms that might damage crops on crops to kill the insects that may reduce crop yield. They also spray herbicides to kill weeds that may compete with the crops. Some of these chemicals may remain on the surface of, for example, fruit. Others may be absorbed by the plant and therefore be present in the crop.

The European Union has strict laws that determine how much of these chemical residues are permitted in foods.

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