A 25-year-old French student has won a EUR150k prize from the French Ministry of L'agricoltura to develop a fresh fruit and vegetable pesticide detector.
On average, in conventional farming, a potato is treated with pesticides 18.9 times and an apple 35.1 times (fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, etc.) before being put on supermarket shelves. Simon Bernard, in his final year at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Maritime in the Havre, designed the idea for the “Scan Eat”, which can measure the amount of pesticides on produce in the supermarket.
Bernard said he heard about an infrared spectrometer in 2015 that was the size of a USB key. He then realized that it could be used to detect pesticides on fresh produce. In 2014, the miniature infrared spectrometer was used by the Israeli start-up company, Consumer Physics, to develop “Scio”, a handheld device used to scan plants, food and medicine in order to observe their molecular composition.
To use “Scan Eat”, users must download an app onto their phone, then scan the fruit or vegetable using a device no bigger than a USB key. The molecular information appears as algorithms, which are then converted into pesticide levels that smartphone users will be able to understand. Bernard will develop these algorithms during a none-month contract in one of the Ministry of Agriculture’s incubators.