A federal trade commission is taking aim at the tea and papaya industry after it found that some of the biggest tea-packing companies are “systematically” using pesticides to treat their plants, the Washington Post reported.
The tea- and pakalaya trade is booming, according to the Post, citing the American Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group.
While the industry has long been criticized for using pesticides, the Post reported that the pesticides were often used for “greenhouse gas control,” which is banned by the federal government.
The FTC’s latest investigation, which was conducted in 2018, is the latest effort by the agency to look into pesticide use.
The agency found that tea-makers were using pesticides on their tea to help control weeds and improve water quality, and that they were “intentionally” overusing pesticides.
“Pesticides are harmful, but it is often the unintended consequence of intentional pesticide use that is most harmful,” the FTC wrote in its decision.
“There is little evidence to suggest that tea plants or farmers are at increased risk of adverse health effects from these pesticides.”
The investigation also found that the tea companies were “systemically” using chemicals that are “more likely to cause cancer, respiratory disease, or birth defects” than those used by non-toxic alternatives, the newspaper reported.
A spokesperson for the tea company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.