From THE SUNDAY TIMES - 12th April 1998
Children pay price of cheap Chilean wine
by Paul Nuki
and Lake Sagaris
WINE on sale in British supermarkets is being produced at appalling human cost. The unregulated use of chemicals in vineyards which supply stores including Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Tesco is being blamed for birth defects and poisonings among workers and their families.
A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that vineyard workers in Chile, one of the biggest producers of "value for money" supermarket wines, are being exposed to a cocktail of toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, many of which have been banned or restricted in Europe and America.
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Tesco said it would investigate the allegations of workers' health being threatened. "If there is any evidence that local workers are exposed to serious health risks, then we would take it very seriously and act immediately," said a spokesman.
All the supermarkets said there were rigorous checks on the wines themselves to ensure they were free from contamination. "All our suppliers use modern techniques and we are not aware of pesticides being used," said a spokesman for Waitrose.
A Marks and Spencer spokesman said: "We regularly visit all our suppliers to make sure all our standards are met. We do not allow pesticides that are not legally approved." Safeway said: "We work with reputable suppliers that we check regularly."
Now, I was at a local Oxfam forum four years ago and the abuses of pesticides were being reported then. These supermarkets either are apaulingly bad at knowing what is going on, or are very good at pulling the wool over our eyes.
Please write to these supermarkets. Hold them to their answers. If Marks and Spencers have 'standards' that must be met, then ask them what these are! Ask Tesco for the results of their investigation! Tell them to get in touch with Oxfam if they want evidence.
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