Curious of How Safe is Fresh Produce?

Residue Calculator Helps Public Understand How Safe Food Is

News Release

Recently, we have shared new government residue sampling results from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).  These programs consistently show that 99% of the foods sampled had no detectable residues at all or residues found were well below safety levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For those who do not want to review these lengthy government reports, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) created an easy-to-use “residue calculator” on safefruitsandveggies.com, which is based upon the USDA data.  We asked toxicologists with the University of California Personal Chemical Exposure Program to analyze this data.  Their findings: A child could literally eat hundreds to thousands of servings of a fruit or veggie in a day and still not have any health effects from residues.  This analysis shows how very minute residues are, if present at all.

The residue calculator features 19 of the most popular fruits and veggies, and you can click on a man, woman, teenager, or child to see the number of servings one would have to consume.  For example, a child could eat 181 servings or 1,448 strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from residues.  Apples?  A child could eat 340 apples in a day.  Kale?  7,446 servings!

These government reports and the UC toxicological analysis underscore the diligence of fruit and vegetable farmers when it comes to the judicious use of pesticides approved for organic and conventional crops.

“… Growers and farmers are adept at following our comprehensive rules to ensure produce is grown to the highest pesticide standards,” said Brian Leahy, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

“Based on the PDP data, consumers can feel confident about eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables,” concludes the USDA report.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic or conventional fruits and veggies for better health and longer life.

BREAKING NEWS: Historic Monterey County Farmworker Safety Initiative

BREAKING NEWS

Ag Commissioner & Farmworker Advisory Committee Announce Historic Pesticide Initiative for Farmworker Safety

 

Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner, Eric Lauritzen and the Farmworker Advisory Committee, formed with the assistance of the Center for Community Advocacy (CCA), announced an historic initiative TODAY aimed at providing additional pesticide protections for farmworker safety. The initiative launches a pilot program with leading growers to enhance worker notification through warning signs when pesticides are used in the fields.

 

“California has the toughest farm pesticide restrictions in the nation, and Monterey County already imposes local rules that further protect farmworkers,” said Lauritzen at TODAY’s press conference. “But we are going to do even more to communicate our commitment to safety in the fields.”

 

“We are excited about this initiative that adds an additional element of protection for farmworkers by providing the time and date when it is safe to reenter the fields that require posting,” said Lauritzen. “Farmworkers are the backbone of Monterey County’s $4.8 billion Ag industry, and they are entitled to the highest standard of pesticide safety.”

 

Eric Lauritzen, Monterey County Ag Commissioner
Eric Lauritzen, Monterey County Ag Commissioner, speaking at Press Conference TODAY on Historic Farmworker Safety Initiative

Intended to protect farmworkers, the initiate “has created a relationship between our office, the regulators and the farm worker community,” said Lauritzen. “And it’s really building trust and confidence with our office and the regulatory program there to protect farmworkers,” noted Lauritzen.

 

Additionally, every farmworker in Monterey County (approximately 50,000) will receive a business-card-sized information card (in Spanish) advising them to call the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office if they suspect violations of safety rules. The cards also advise employers that it is illegal to retaliate against farmworkers who seek the help of the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

 

The information card reads:

If you have questions or complaints on pesticides, the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office will help.

The card includes phone numbers and advises workers that state law also protects them against retaliation if they report a pesticide problem.

 

Currently, regulations for posting pesticide warning signs do not require information indicating the date or time when it is safe for farmworkers to re-enter the fields. The pilot program will include the addition of one sign that will be prominently marked with a red flag and include the date and time that the law allows workers to safely reenter the field. Only the grower or his/her officially designated representative may remove the signs, after first showing the crew leader proof that the re-entry restrictions have expired.

 

Osvaldo Cisneros, a lettuce worker and member of the Farmworker Advisory Committee, feels that the change is very important. “Some farmworkers have been showing up for work and have been told by their mayordomos (supervisors) to re-enter fields even though warning signs are still up,” said Cisneros. “They have to depend on the word of the mayordomos even though they have no way to verify what they are told. This change will allow farmworkers, themselves, to tell when it is safe to enter fields.”

 

The posting and information card initiatives were developed in cooperation with the Farmworker Advisory Committee, a group formed jointly by Lauritzen and the non-profit Center for Community Advocacy. “Many farmworkers are unaware of their right to a safe working environment,” said CCA Executive Director Juan Uranga. “That’s why it is important to provide farmworkers with the information they need to both protect themselves and also gain access to the agencies, like the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, that exist to protect them.”

 

A second member of the Farmworker Advisory Committee, Maria Elena Andrade, added: “It is important for our community to know that the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office exists to serve us, as well as the other parts of the agricultural industry. We are trying to create that message through the Farmworker Advisory Committee, even as we work with the Ag Commissioner and his staff to improve safety for farmworkers.”

 

Growers involved with the initiative include Sea Mist Farms, Tanimura & Antle, Bayview Farms, Scheid Vineyards and Costa Family Farms. Lauritzen recognized these leading growers for their, support, innovation and dedication in their effort to provide additional protections for farmworkers.

 

Lauritzen briefed officials at the state Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) on the pilot warning sign program and the information card campaign. DPR Director Brian Leahy praised the Monterey County initiative. “We all know that farmworkers are the most vulnerable population in terms of potential exposure to pesticides,” said Leahy. “When we protect farmworkers more effectively, we also enhance protection for the environment and the community at large. This initiative represents an important step forward for farmworker safety, and it underscores California’s leadership in environmental protection.”


Historic Note:

The accord reached two years ago between the Office of the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner, the agency that oversees pesticide regulations and other worker safety matters, and the Center for Community Advocacy (CCA), a farmworker advocacy group, established the Farmworker Advisory Committee for the Office of the Agricultural Commissioner of Monterey County—the first of its kind in the State Of California.



 

Lorsban Under Scrutiny

Chlorpyriphos (Lorsban) Must be Used More Carefully

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) reports an important, broad-spectrum organophosphate insecticide known as Chlorpyriphos, or Lorsban, may be further restricted due to evidence of potential human health and environmental risks, presence (parts per billion) in some California waterways, and pressure from the EPA. Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, said, “Chlorpyriphos is an important tool and we know there are important times when you have to use it.”

Registered and widely used in agriculture across the nation for more than 40 years, DPR has made it a restricted-use material. Leahy said, “We are trying to work with the grower community to improve how they use it. We are also working with UC IPM to look at essential needs, but we know that as we look at Chlorpyriphos, we are going to have to put additional restrictions on it.”

“We simply need for it to stay on target, and not be getting into the human body. We are seeing that it is, and we are going to continue to make sure that people use it thoughtfully and wisely,” he said.

And Leahy is very confident that growers can use this material and keep it on target, “I have seen farms that use it only when they really need it, and that is what we want. We can’t lose this tool and we are going to keep it only by showing we can greatly reduce off-site movement to the human body and watersheds,” he noted.

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Resources:

According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources 2014 Chlorpyrifos Report entitled, “Identifying and Managing Critical Uses of Chlorpyrifos Against Key Pests of Alfalfa, Almonds, Citrus and Cotton“:

Chlorpyrifos plays a critical role in many IPM programs for controlling pests that threaten the productivity and economic well-being of California producers and in maintaining the high quality standards required by consumers and international export markets. This active ingredient also allows production of animal feed to support the important dairy industry in California. For some pests, chlorpyrifos is one of the last effective organophosphate insecticides available and may provide an important alternative mode of action for insecticide rotations to prevent the development of resistance to newer insecticide products. For others, this product is one of very few products with international registrations with established maximum residue limits (MRLs) that allow unhampered trade. Chlorpyrifos may also be a key tool for controlling invasive pests as well as endemic pests occasionally found in extremely high population densities. 

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation reports that the combined use of chlorpyrifos in alfalfa, almonds, citrus, and cotton has decreased since 2006. 

Although newer insecticides are also available to manage some pests in these four crops, there is a continued need to preserve the availability of chlorpyrifos for specific situations.

Assessing the Health Risk of Pesticides,” California Department of Pesticide Regulation

UC Davis Soil Symposium Showcases California Innovation

A big soil health symposium was held at UC Davis last week, and there was lot to learn for everyone in the industry.

Brian Leahy is Chief of the California Department  of Pesticide Regulation in Sacramento, which hosted the one day event. Leahy noted those in attendance were innovative and pioneering.

“In the room I think we had some of the most creative farmers, creative researchers, and creative private companies on the planet. These people are some the most amazing farmers that only California produces, and they were here I think as problem solvers. We know we need to understand soil better. What’s going on in the soil? And how do we work with it? said Leahy. “What we heard was a lot of  amazing activities that are taking place right now. Lot of great questions asked, its unbelievable the kind of research is going on. I think it was a very productive day.” he added.

Brian Leahy (left) speaking with Malcolm Ricci, of Bolthouse Farms of Bakersfield.
Brian Leahy (left) speaking with Malcolm Ricci, of Bolthouse Farms of Bakersfield.

In those attending the symposium, also learned some things they didn’t know.

“And that was the goal, we were trying to figure out, how do we build the support to get long term sustainable funding to better understand soil health. You know understanding soil and what’s going on in soil life, its one of the last frontiers in how were going to make incredible progress in how we feed people, how we take care of the planet, and how we take care of each other. Just layering all the other amazing research going on right in plant genetics. and plants on top of soil its going to be another revolution. I heard Warren Buffett’s son called it the “Brown Revolution”. said Leahy.

And think of that really important topsoil, 1 and half feet around the planet, that supports us all.

“We heard from the Noble Foundation and the soil renaissance, its a national movement as well, where people are realizing that we have to take care of the soil and work with soil, to really take care of the human race, to feed us, clothed us, all of that. So there is a lot of promise here.” said Leahy.

Homeowners: Your Gardeners Need License to Apply Pesticides

Homeowners Urged To Make Sure Gardeners Who Apply Pesticides Have License

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is urging all homeowners to check that their maintenance gardener (landscaper) has a state maintenance gardening (MG) pest control business license from DPR if they are occasionally applying pesticides on their lawns. Homeowners can do so on the DPR website’s License and Certificate Holder List Page.

“Homeowners may not realize that maintenance gardeners are applying chemistry to their lawns,” says DPR director Brian Leahy. “We want to try and ensure they are doing so in a responsible manner.”

The license ensures that the person applying pesticides has been properly trained to use them on lawns and garden areas. If used properly, pesticides should not cause harm to humans or pets. However, improper use may result in illnesses or environmental problems.

Pesticides used on lawns and gardens may be washed to street storm drains and into local rivers, streams and even sensitive wetlands miles away. This may impact aquatic life.

“Your lawn may only be a small piece of land, but collectively, California lawns amount to many acres,” said Leahy. “Homeowners can play a significant role to reduce the amount of pesticide pollution (runoff) from lawns that are entering our waters through storm drains.”

Under California law, anyone who applies pesticides, even if it is only incidental to other maintenance gardening tasks, must have this DPR maintenance gardening pest control business license and be registered with the local county agricultural commissioner’s office.

In California, there are about 100,800 landscapers employed in the public and private sector who are responsible for maintaining homes, parks, golf courses, schools and plantings around malls, offices, restaurants and other locations.

Learn more about how your landscapers can obtain a certificate/ license at
 http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/maintgardeners.htm