Food Waste Solutions Include the American Farmer (Part 2)

Biotechnology is Part of the Food Waste Solution

by Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm Director

Last week, California Ag Today published an article about the food waste in America discussion held at the 2016 Maximum Residue Level (MRL) Workshop in San Francisco. Jay Vroom, CEO of CropLife America, felt the farmer’s voice was largely absent from the topic of food waste. In the second part of this series, Vroom advocates for the use of bioscience to help eliminate food waste.

According to Vroom, the most vital occurrence of food waste is in production. Consumer food waste is very high, but Vroom believes bioscience is key to keeping the statistics low in all areas of production. “The opportunities for crop protection and biotechnology span a visual that would certainly overcome food waste yield potential with biotechnology,” he said.

In addition, Vroom stated that other genetic enhancements, crop protection tools, seed bed preparation, soil health, moisture management, modern plant nutrient, fertility programs and equipment advances all underscore why farmers need to be included in the food waste discussion. “Most especially,” Vroom said agriculture community can contribute, “the miracles of precision agriculture that are out there in the hands of farmers in almost every corner of the United States today and in almost every farming system.”

At the MRL Workshop, Vroom told the audience, “The farmer’s role and the farmer’s voice in all this is largely absent. We’re looking to help lead—with many of you and others who are willing to participate in a broad coalition—in getting the farmer’s voice in there.”

Jay Vroom, CEO, CropLife America
Jay Vroom, CEO of CropLife America

The farmer’s voice, equipment and biotechnology are imperative because, “modern genetic seed advancements and breeding also generate plant material that is healthier and results in longer storability,” said Vroom. If food were to have longer storability, it wouldn’t be as much of a consumer issue.”

Vroom’s affiliates, who have surveyed the food waste landscape and uncovered results that encourage farmers to speak up, concluded, “The farmer’s voice in the food waste conversation is an opportunity that we see as wide open.”

“I think a place for us to start would be to get the facts together,” Vroom stated, “such as, ‘How much more food would be wasted if the technologies the farmers used to produce those crops today weren’t available and you would have a lot less storability, shelf life, etcetera?’”

“We know that insects, disease, weed control, regulators, fumigants, direct and indirect food waste data is out there,” Vroom said. “We need to gather that up, work together, and assemble it by crop to tell that story about the crops that are directly consumed by consumers.”

Vroom discussed food waste mostly with regard to produce; however, animals and dairy are equally important in the conversation. “Certainly  it gets a little more complicated with protein; but once again, better animal nutrition results in less food waste from meat, milk and eggs. Those are animal agriculture partnerships that we don’t often reach out to, yet another opportunity for us to be able to tell that indirect story as well,” he said.

Vroom contended there are many ways for farmers in every aspect of agriculture to “join forces, connect to the food waste and food safety debate, and to eliminate these critical issues, which certainly time to time is also front of mind for consumers and voters. And we’ve got a great story to tell,” he concluded.

USDA Pesticide Data Program Report Confirms Food Safety

USDA Pesticide Data Program Report Confirms Food Safety:

More than 99 percent of sampled food tested below allowable pesticide residue levels!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed again in its annual report that American consumers can focus on the nutritional benefits of conventional and organic produce without concern for pesticide residues. Over 99 percent of fresh and processed food available to consumers tested below allowable pesticide residue levels, as detailed in the 24th Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Report released on January 11, 2016 by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Only .36 percent [0.36%] of the products sampled through the PDP had residues above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established tolerances, giving consumers plentiful options to meet their daily nutritional needs.crop life america logo

“Today’s consumers can choose from food produced with a variety of farming methods and necessary crop protection strategies and be confident that it will sustain and enrich their families’ lives,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America (CLA). “Across the nation, our growers continue to use the most advanced crop protection technology available to target specific crop threats. From precision agriculture to integrated pest management, farmers in the heartland, the plains, coastal areas and everywhere in between are pushing forward with the best ways to produce food for their communities and for the country.”

PDP researchers tested a total of 10,619 samples of fresh and processed fruit and vegetables (8,582 samples), oats (314 samples), rice (314 samples), infant formula (1,055 samples), and salmon (354 samples). To ensure the samples were representative of the U.S., researchers collected data in a variety of states throughout different times of the year. The findings support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, recently released by USDA and the U.S. Department of Health, which encourage consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables.ChooseMyPlate.gov

“With rapid advancements in computing technology, the space for developing new ways to fight agricultural threats is increasing exponentially,” stated Dr. Janet E. Collins, senior vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CLA. “Consumers have a number of options at the grocery store, thanks in large part to the work of the scientific community involved in research and development, the companies that are manufacturing products, and America’s farmers and ranchers. The 2014 PDP report demonstrates again that, with the sound science-based regulation of pesticides and commitment from the industry, farmers and other stakeholders, we can reach toward making sure that every American, no matter their wallet size or geographic location, can access healthy food.”

A 2012 report from CLA demonstrates that crop protection has made healthy food more financially accessible to the American consumer, providing a 47.92 percent savings in overall grocery bills for a family of four in the U.S.1 In addition, increased agricultural production, due to advanced pesticides, has created an additional 1,040,661 jobs generating more than $33 billion in wages—all while decreasing the need for tillage operations, thereby reducing fossil fuel use by 558 million gallons per year.

Recent reports from the United Nations also show that an increasing number of people worldwide have gained access to healthy food. Over the past 25 years, the number of people worldwide who are hungry has declined from one billion to about 795 million, or about one person out of nine—which means that 2 billion people have avoided a “likely state of hunger” given the global population increase of 1.9 billion people since 1990-92.2 Multiple factors have contributed to the decrease in global hunger, including the integration of family farmers and small holders in rural areas into well-functioning markets for food, inputs and labor.

The PDP was established in 1991 for the purpose of collecting data on pesticide residues found in food. Information collected by the PDP is sent to the EPA to help the agency conduct important dietary risk assessments. The USDA also uses this data in the development of integrated pest management objectives. Since the PDP program was initiated, 109 different commodities have undergone testing. A complete version of the 2014 Annual Summary is available at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.


1 CropLife America. The Contributions of Crop Protection Products to the United States Economy.

2 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program. State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015.


Established in 1933, CropLife America (www.croplifeamerica.org) represents the developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of plant science solutions for agriculture and pest management in the United States. CropLife America’s member companies produce, sell and distribute virtually all the crop protection and biotechnology products used by American farmers. CLA can be found on Twitter at @CropLifeAmerica. CLA supports CropLife StewardshipFirst.