In issuing a report about the chemical levels on foods, the USDA has announced that “U.S. food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.”
The Environmental Protection Agency echoed that assessment and added that “EPA remains committed to a rigorous, science-based and transparent regulatory program for pesticides.”
The 2011 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) summary confirms similar findings in previous years dealing with pesticide residues on foodstuffs; that overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were well below the tolerances set by the EPA. This report showed that residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.27 percent of the samples tested. Some residues were found with no established tolerance levels or tolerance exemptions, but EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk.
However, results of the 2011 PDP report – the most recent statistics available on the subject which are reported annually – did include new sections added by the Obama administration. One portion dealt with a “Q and A,” and another provided information about “What Consumers Should Know.”Both sections clearly and concisely explain how the government and corresponding regulatory processes and systems are protective of all consumers, including infants and pregnant women.
The troubling aspect of such a positive report by the federal agencies overseeing food production and food safety in the U.S. is that there are certain environmental groups that will never be satisfied with any testing the agencies do. For those skeptics, the USDA, EPA and especially state regulatory agencies are viewed with suspicion – often accused as serving as “shills and lackeys” for Corporate Agriculture.
Unfortunately these doomsayers won’t be happy until pesticides are eliminated from food production altogether, regardless of the ramifications that would result in attempting to feed a growing global population. Some of these groups manipulate and twist government reports such as the USDA PDP to generate their “own reports” in a manner that unfairly blemishes the safety of conventionally grown, affordable produce. This “misinformation” often raises fear and concerns among consumers and, sadly, does generate negative mainstream media coverage that tarnishes the whole agriculture industry.
There are many reasons for some environmental groups to disseminate exaggerated risks and scare stories; grant funding is a key one; fund-raising through well-intentioned consumer donations another. But, raising fear without facts is a disservice to American families striving to put healthy, safe and affordable food on the dinner table.
This “smear campaign” has led to consumers becoming distrustful about the food that they eat, sometimes avoiding healthy fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. They have begun questioning federal regulatory agencies and public health organizations for reasons based solely on fear mongering tactics. But families deserve better – they have the right to factual, science-based and balanced and truthful information. The Obama Administration fortunately provided this clarification in this latest USDA PDP report that can be viewed at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.
State rewards CURES with IPM Innovator Award
The Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship (CURES) was among four 2012 IPM Innovator Awards winners announced in March by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).
“This year’s honorees are reducing pesticide use in agricultural areas and in child-care centers and other public places in diverse ways that range from using less toxic alternatives to creating partnerships and developing educational materials,” said DPR Director Brian Leahy. “We applaud their commitment to using pest control practices to protect public health and the environment and willingness to share their practices with others.”
CURES is a nonprofit group in Dinuba created in 1997 with the mission to make and deliver science-based solutions and education to ensure that tools to manage pests and grow plants are used in ways that protect people and the environment.
When contacted by WPHA, the organization’s Executive Director Parry Klassen said he was quite pleased about winning the award.
“It’s great to be recognized by DPR for our inclusion of IPM principles in the projects we have managed over the years,” he said. “A key part of any IPM program is judicious and careful use of pesticides. Whether our projects focus on protecting surface water or pesticides and pollinators, following stewardship practices is always a core part of our message.”
Klassen went on to say that support over the last 10 years by water quality coalitions and the registrant community set the stage for CURES to win the award.
“Dow AgroSciences, MANA and Syngenta provided important seed money that enabled us to be active when watershed coalitions were being formed in the Central Valley,” he noted. “The grower coalitions subsequently embraced the CURES approach and continue to involve us in their grower outreach activities.”
The numerous CURES’ projects focusing on practices to keep pesticides out of surface water led to the DPR award. Those projects range from developing educational materials on pesticide applications, studying new orchard sprayer technology, on-farm sprayer calibrations and evaluation of field practices to minimize pesticides in irrigation drain water.
CURES also assists water quality coalitions in the Central Valley with outreach to growers and applicators about using stewardship practices when applying pesticides near water.
“We just celebrated our 15th anniversary and look forward to our next 15 years as we continue these efforts in agriculture and urban settings, says Klassen, who is also a fruit grower in eastern Fresno County. “Our most recent project involving studies on nitrate movement past the crop root zone will hopefully be the first of many stewardship opportunities in the field of crop nutrition.”
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