DPR report sets record straight on pesticide safety

DPR report sets record straight on pesticide safety

Sept. 2 was a great day for California agriculture and a major migraine headache producer for the anti-pesticide crowd.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that once again that the vast majority of produce the public agency tested in 2013 had little or no detectable pesticide residues and…posed no health risks to the public.

Let’s relish those last seven words – “posed no health risks to the public” – magic words in farm speak.

And to quote DPR further, the report says 95 percent of all California-grown produce tested by DPR was in compliance, pesticide wise, within allowable limits.

And just as it seems it couldn’t get any better this quote from DPR Director Brian Leahy.

“This is a vivid example that California fresh produce is among the safest in the world,” Director Leahy said.

Thank you, Mr. Leahy, for setting the record straight on pesticide safety in food production.

California farmers, pest control advisors, and pesticide representatives - savor this sweet moment.      

This report is a shot to the gut of the bull shootin’ (BS) doomsday fear mongering crowd which claims pesticides used in food production are killing us.

This report comes from a very reputable public source (not Bob's Farm & Garden Shop) charged with finding the truth about pesticides and their impact. This is a major public agency charged with keeping our food supply safe. DPR uses state-of-the-art equipment to gain accurate pesticide findings.

If pesticides were harmful, DPR’s report would thrust a sword into agriculture’s jugular vein.

Of the produce sampled last year, DPR says 51 percent of the produce tested had zero residue, and about 43 percent contained residues within legal tolerance. This said, the bar for legal tolerance is set pretty high.  

Yet as a journalist, it’s my job to share with you the rest of the story. Of the tested produce, 4 percent had illegal pesticide residue - unapproved pesticides on the produce - found at low levels.

Illegal pesticides were found in three imported food products, including cactus pads from Mexico which had organophosphate-based pesticide residue, snow peas from Guatemala, and ginger from China.

Perhaps more troubling for U.S. and California agriculture is that illegal residues were also found in U.S.-grown spinach.

DPR says 1 percent of the commodities tested had pesticide residues in excess of state tolerances but were not necessarily a health threat.

Overall, the findings prove that by far most California produce grown with pesticides is very safe to eat. Kudos are extended to California growers who abide by pesticide rules and guidelines, pesticide companies who have spent millions of dollars creating softer pesticides, and to DPR for its detailed testing.

It’s reassuring to know that registered pesticides used at label rates are safe for consumers.

DPR’s 2013 pesticide residue monitoring data and previous year’s findings are available at www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/enforce/residue/rsmonmnu.htm.

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