Roses May Contain Risky Levels of Pesticides

...But not the ones that are Fair Traded.

A 1997 report by the Environmental Working Group found that commercially grown roses contained 1,000 times the amount of cancer causing pesticides when compared with food products.

The real concern for many environmental groups is for the people that grow and handle flowers that are drenched in pesticide.

But the news should not prevent you from appreciating the newly arrived flowers on your desk, at least one environmentalist claims.

Florists sell millions of roses along with countless other cut flowers over the year. Many of those flowers will be grown in poor countries where pesticide regulations are not as stringent as they are in the United States. Since flower crops can earn five times the amount of fruit crops, they have an increasing presence in the developing world.

The United States receives about 64 percent of its imported cut flowers from Colombia. Canada’s numbers are similar. In some of those farms where pesticides are not regulated, workers -most of whom are women- suffer the most from the industry's heavy pesticide use. Flower workers experience headaches, nausea, impaired vision, rashes and asthma, according to the Pesticide Action Network of North America.

Even though there is much more serious exposure to workers than people who buy the flowers, environmentalists are urging people to consider buying organic bouquets.

Atelier de Fleurs Green Poppies has been in the business for three years, relying on local organic growers and certified fair trade farms in South America.

"Unlike conventionally grown flowers, our flowers are grown the way nature likes."