For the Mediterranean countries, Greece, Italy and Spain, olive oil is of great economic importance. Greece produces over 350 thousand tons of olive oil per year, which 85% of it is extra virgin.
Greek extra virgin olive oil is high quality and a very much preferred commodity. Although the neighboring countries, Italy and Spain may produce more, the quality is unmatchable.
The utilized agriculture area in Greece is 3,583,190 hectares, which 77,000 of that are totally organic. Organic production aims on high quality olive oil with toxic free methods and processes which are not hazardous to humans, animals and to the environmental welfare.
Starting with pesticide free olives is of extreme importance, because pesticides in olive oil can not be washed off and also olive oil is not treatable.
Applications of pesticides are necessary for the protection of the olive crop against pests and disease attacks. Pesticides are used not only for pest and disease control, but for production increase. Some remaining residues of these pesticides can contaminate the produced olive oil.
Pesticides applications are toxic and dangerous and their use is a serious health risk. The development of non-chemical pesticides to replace conventional ones should be a target strategy.
To produce organic olive oil, the processing methods should guarantee the high quality of the product, from the first to the last stage of the production.
In Greece the organic cultivation is certified by the National Accreditation Systems, which is an organization authorized by AgroCert (Organization for Certification and Inspection of Agricultural Products). The organization is supervised by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food. The same applies for the rest of the European countries.
For the certification of organic olive oil, these organizations demand residue levels lower than 0.001 mg kg, difficult to reach, because pesticide residue may also come from neighboring cultivations, pesticide residue on the ground etc.
Greek researchers after testing an array of olive oils for pesticides residue, reported that the levels were minimal with no health risks anywhere in the horizon.
A study in the UK proved that fungi and round warms are non-chemical substitutes for pesticides.
Another study proved that the Eucalyptus essential oil is an alternative to chemical pesticides.
For environmental benefits and to avoid the negative impacts of the pesticides, consumers are willing to pay a higher price. Extra virgin olive oil, pesticides free, is of very high importance to human health.