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Down to Earth

Toxic cocktail: The secret within your flowers

If flower bouquets are seemingly perfect, that's because they can contain dozens of toxic chemicals, much more than vegetables. We take a closer look.

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It is well known that cut flowers have a big environmental footprint. Often grown in greenhouses, they consume considerable amounts of water and energy before being flown all over the world. But did you know that flowers also contain a cocktail of toxic chemicals?

Unlike food farming, European regulations do not set a limit on the quantity of pesticides in flowers. Growing roses, for example, requires seven times more pesticides than maize. And the variety of chemical products can sometimes be staggering. For Valentine’s Day in 2018, Greenpeace Netherlands put three common bouquets under the spotlight, with tests revealing 43 different pesticides.

The Down to Earth team travelled to the Netherlands, Europe’s leading flower producer, to meet farmers who are trying to grow flowers differently.

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