Aza-Direct Stops Insect Feeding

Aza-Direct Targets Critical Pests

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Aza-Direct, with the active ingredient Azadirachtin, is one of the most potent, reduced risk insect pest controls among all the natural pesticides.

With four modes of action, Aza-Direct targets critical pests such as spider mites, thrips, whitefly, aphids, and lygus. It’s very safe with beneficial insects, especially bees, to help maintain the natural balance within the crop.

The product has a lot of excellent benefits regarding those four modes of action, explained Patrick Holverson, Director of Ag Business with Parry America Inc., which manufactures the active ingredients for Aza-Direct.

“Because of the four modes of action, you will not get a resistance buildup like you can with standard chemicals,” Holverson said. “What I like about it, many growers in California will apply Aza-Direct in anticipation before the target pest hits because it is not a contact killer; it takes two or three days to get into the pest’s system to reduce the population.”

Furthermore, the material is an excellent repellent and as well as an anti-feeding agent.

“Those pests who stay in the treated field will experience severe feeding cessation due to a locked jaw and digestive system,” Holverson said. “So, the pests that do feed on the plant, the material acts as an insect growth regulator that affects both the eggs and the larva, preventing them from reaching maturity.”

Holverson said that in strawberries, Aza-Direct controls two significant pests—including two-spotted spider mite and lygus—that come in after losing their host crop.

“The product prevents puckered strawberries and increases the value of the crop,” he said. “It can be used on both organic and conventional crops.”

It has a zero-day pre-harvest interval, and four-hour re-entry, which is essential in a crop such as strawberries.

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Encouraging Schools to Comply with Pesticide Notifications

Monterey County Schools are Not Logging On to See Notifications

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Monterey County is having a hard time getting schools to comply with new regulations regarding restrictions of pesticide sprays and pesticide notifications near schools.

“There’s a quarter mile buffer for certain types of applications,” said Bob Roach, acting Agricultural Commissioner for Monterey County.

Fumigated Strawberry Field in Monterey County

When school’s in session, growers will comply with this buffer without any serious impact on their spray practices. Fumigants are already strictly controlled.

“We’re going to comply with everything, but the notification part is something that’s just been very difficult because the schools are not participating like they should be,” Roach said.

The growers must do an annual notification to the schools. In order to see that notification, the schools must log onto www.calschoolnotify.org, which the state has set up for that purpose, and then the notification will go directly from the grower to school administrator.

“What the school does with it is up to the school, but growers have prepared that notification on the Cal Ag ag permits web-based computer system for pesticide permits,” Roach explained. “That system does take all the restricted materials and adds them to a list, but you have to manually enter in your nonrestrictive materials and your spray adjuvants, which are included in this notification. They have to make a list of all the materials are going to use in the next year and they have to send that through to the www.calschoolnotify.org system so that schools can receive it.”

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Conventional or Organic Strawberries — All Safe to Eat

Strawberry Grower Says At PPB, Anything Can be Found

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

David Peck is a longtime strawberry grower in Santa Maria. He objects to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, which had strawberries at the top of their list.

David Peck, COO and Farmer of Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria

“If you take the data that the EWG is presenting, you can say, yeah, okay, that’s fair,” Peck said.

“Based on what they are presenting, they can find detectable amounts of whatever at however many parts per billion. I’ll buy that; but they’d have no perspective on the types of residues and what that means regarding human health, human safety, and human risk,” noted Peck, who grows both conventional and organic strawberries.

Peck said that even organic strawberries would have detectable amounts of residues.

“I tell people that I grow organic strawberries and that I do not put on the crop protection materials that the EWG is talking about,” he explained.

“At parts per billion (PPB), you can find dozens of carcinogens at minute levels. Where did they come from? Well, they are everywhere in such small quantities that no one should worry about it,” Peck said.

Peck said that the decision for consumers is not organic versus conventional, but to eat more strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.

“I say eating California produce in general is so much healthier than avoiding California fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

The Alliance for Food and Farming works hard to bring the truth to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. They report that all produce is healthy to eat and that consumers need to eat more every day. More Information at www.safefruitsandveggies.com

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CropLife America Advocates For Crop Protection

#GiveACrop Campaign Helps Consumers Understand Importance of Crop Protection

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently spoke with Genevieve O’Sullivan, the Director of Communication and Marketing for CropLife America based in Washington, D.C. They’re advocates for crop protection companies.

“So every day, my job is to talk about why pesticides are necessary tools for farmers, and one of the ways we’ve done that is with a campaign called giveacrop.org, where we have 12 humorous videos on why farmers use pesticides. … Our most recent ones are focused specifically on the importance of pesticides as an important tool,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s all about The Talk—having a conversation about the importance of crop protection materials.”

“We help the average consumer understand the importance of crop protection tools,” she explained.

With the videos, CropLife America has chosen a of couple different occupations—like a chef, a hairdresser and carpenter—to feature.

“What we do is take away the main tool they need and then show how much harder it is to do your job or possibly [they’re] not even be able to do the job without the tools, and they are quite humorous,” O’Sullivan said.

“They feature our mascot, The Pest, and he is that guy that nobody can stand. But thank goodness farmers have pesticides to deal with the pests on their property,” she said.

The campaign also promotes #GiveACrop.

“It’s more than a hashtag. It’s the satisfying crunch of spreading the word about crop protection,” O’Sullivan explained. “Whether you’re a proud grower or a satisfied shopper, when you #GiveACrop, you’re saying that you’re not afraid to have the talk about the produce you love and the pests you don’t.”

“So go ahead, take a harvest selfie. Show us your bumper crop. And tag it like you mean it,” she said.

To see the videos, go to giveacrop.org, where you will also find facts versus myths.

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Overwinter Pests and New Pesticide Regulations Near Schools

A Focus on Overwintering Pests and New Spray Regulations Near Schools

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently spoke with Ryan Jacobsen, CEO and executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, about pest pressures in Fresno county as well as new pesticide regulations that were put put in place around K-12 schools and licensed daycare centers beginning Jan 1.

“When you talk about pest pressure, the warmer temperatures that we saw last year because of the multiple storms that were rolling through helped help many pests get through the season and start in greater numbers earlier in the year, and that’s what we saw happen. We have had many warm days so far this winter, and it will be interesting to see if pests respond to that in the coming spring,” Jacobsen said.

“There definitely this time of year when it comes to so many of our different other crops that folks are doing all their different cultural practices to make sure that they are doing what they can in vineyards, orchards and open grounds to reduce those pest pressures for the upcoming year and hopefully you get through the season,” Jacobsen explained.

And there are new regulations that farmers will have to follow when spraying within a quarter mile of schools and licensed daycare centers between 6am and 6pm. But Jacobson says that this won’t be a big change for farmers, as Central Valley farmers had been following regulations like this for many years.

“Most of these have been in practice by these growers in south Joaquin Valley for years. Our kids are going to those same schools, and we’re trying to be the best neighbors and stewards of the land next to these schools as possible,” Jacobsen said. “Nevertheless, every time you get to government involved, obviously there’s going to be some difficulties and some paperwork or regulatory red tape that’s going to be added to the process there. And I think that’s what you’re seeing with these current rules here in Fresno County.”

“And I know where our agricultural commissioner’s office has worked hand-in-hand with local growers regarding spraying near schools,” he said. “But in anticipation of these rules, and just even before they were even discussed, the industry did what they could to make sure that these applications that were next to schools were done appropriately successfully and that there was no issue.

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Making Comments with Data Carries Weight in Crop Protection

Make Comments When Needed

By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director

Dave Brassard of Brassard Pesticide Regulatory Solutions, based in Washington D.C., regularly assists with getting new products registered with the EPA. California Ag Today spoke with him about making comments regarding the registration status of crop protection products.

“We’re pesticide consultants, and we basically assist registrants into getting everything registered, and getting through a lot of the data requirements, data waiver processes, that they need to go through,” he explained.

Brassard and his wife have a combined total of 73 years experience working in the EPA’s office of pesticide programs.

“The importance of data collection in pesticide regulatory reform, and the need for real data collection to be used in growers defense. Especially when growers reach out for support, the data is the most important, and the most reliable, form of evidence to present to the EPA,” he said.

“What typically happens is we will keep track and count the number of comments. But a lot of comments are very generic, and are not supported by data,” Brassard said

Simply having a large number of comments is not enough; it’s the quality content that really matters.

“So a lot of times it just becomes a little blurb that we had 10,000 comments from stakeholders worried about a concern, but what really, I think, makes a big difference, is if it’s somebody sends in data that can change EPA’s opinion on something,” Brassard explained.

“Let’s say that the EPA is going to regulate a chemical that is the only chemical to control, say, an obscure pest that we didn’t even consider in our original analysis. Somebody sends in that studies, and boy that stops the presses! It’s, ‘Let’s review this,’ ” Brassard said. “Does this change our opinion on anything? Can we make an exception for this particular use-pattern? Is there a different kind of risk-mitigation that we can impose?”

“Sending in real data are comments that make a real difference,” he said

 

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Cannabis Regulations Needed

Regulations Needed to Protect Consumers, Workers

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
Brian Leahy, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulations

With Cannabis being voted in to be legalized in California, regulations will need to be made to keep consumers and workers safe. California Ag Today met with Brian Leahy, Director of Pesticide Regulation out of Sacramento, about Cannabis.

“It is very complicated, but at the end of the day, our job is to help the growers create a crop that is safe for the consumer, safe for the environment and safe for the worker,” Leahy said. “This will all be done in conjunction with all of the other state departments that are working on this. It is the goal for the Cannabis growers to be just like any grower.”

Research is being done with the current Cannabis industry. New health protective guidelines are in the making. One major concern about the Cannabis industry is the amount of pesticide residue. This means that there worker safety issues along with human consumption issues. The industry is already taking steps to resolve this problem.

“The federal government does not recognize it; it’s not a crop. The producers have to remember it’s not a crop, so their laws even on worker safety, overtime, are not the same as agriculture,” Leahy said.

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Rossi Tackles MRL Harmonization

Lois Rossi Tackles MRL Harmonization

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Lois Rossi, who signed off on nearly all crop protection products at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for nearly 37 years, spoke to attendees at the recent Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) Harmonization Workshop in San Francisco. Rossi gave her thoughts on the need for MRL harmonization throughout the world.

Rossi was responsible not only for the registration of all conventional pesticides but also for the re-evaluation of approximately 400 active ingredients. Since 2004, she served on the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) and was a member of the US delegation to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Pesticides and the Registration Steering group.

“There are process challenges from Korea, Taiwan, the EU, and Japan,” said Rossi, adding some are so difficult that not much can be done because of policy and regulation challenges. “Of course,” she explained, “I will suggest some harmonization opportunities, of which there are a plethora, and there is even a new one now with the Crop Group MRL. Just as you think you nailed that MRL calculator, somebody comes up with a different way,” she noted.

Rossi said at some point the industry needs to figure out how to tackle more of its impediments. “We have tackled some, but I don’t think everyone is there yet.” Rossi suggests information is probably the hardest hurdle to manage because there are so many foreign journals and varieties of global websites. “Like I said,” she explained, “the global MRL database has certainly been a lifesaver for many of us. But to keep up with regulations and procedures from countries to which our growers export commodities is somewhat of a full-time job for many, let alone those whose livelihoods depend on exports or who are dealing with MRLs.”

Determining and understanding different data requirements are also challenging. Rossi noted registrants struggle to determine not only how many field trials a particular country requires, but whether they can be conducted within or outside of the country. Some countries require six, some four. Some regulations vary if it’s a minor crop or a major crop. Rossi said keeping up with these requirements, updated testing methods, NGOs doing their own testing, as well as improved technologies that measure smaller amounts of residues is difficult. So, going to one place to figure it all out would be great.

“And then there is the wonderful world of Codex*, particularly with its capacity limitations. Rossi believes the Codex process has improved, but not its capacity. “That’s pretty much as old as Codex is,” she said.

“Some countries have default MRLs that differ, and some have private standards, which will take hold if the public loses confidence in the public standards and the national processes,” Rossi said. “So countries are establishing their own MRLs because of public pressure; consumers want safe food and they want their government to guarantee them safe food. If that confidence is lost, you will probably still have standards, but you will probably have less control because you are going to have private standards.”

*”The Codex Alimentarius or “Food Code” was established by FAO and the World Health Organization in 1963 to develop harmonized international food standards, which protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.”  Source: C O D E X  A L I M E N T A R I U S, http://www.codexalimentarius.org/)

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DPR Scientists Say Most Fresh California Produce Tested Has Little/No Detectable Pesticide Residues

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that once again, the majority of produce it tested annually had little or no detectable pesticide residues and posed no health risk to the public. 95 percent of all California-grown produce, sampled by DPR in 2013, was in compliance with the allowable limits.

“This is a vivid example that California fresh produce is among the safest in the world, when it comes to pesticide exposure,” said DPR Director Brian R. Leahy. “DPR’s scientifically robust monitoring program is an indication that a strong pesticide regulatory program and dedicated growers can deliver produce that consumers can have confidence in.”

DPR tested 3,483 samples of different fruits and vegetables sold in farmers markets, wholesale and retail outlets, and distribution centers statewide. More than 155 different fruits and vegetables were sampled to reflect the dietary needs of California’s diverse population.

Of all 3,483 samples collected in 2013:

  • 43.53 percent of the samples had no pesticide residues detected.
  • 51.51 percent of the samples had residues that were within the legal tolerance levels.
  • 3.99 percent of the samples had illegal residues of pesticides not approved for use on the commodities tested.
  • 0.98 percent of the samples had illegal pesticide residues in excess of established tolerances. A produce item with an illegal residue level does not necessarily indicate a health hazard.

Each piece of fruit or vegetable may legally contain trace amounts of one or more pesticides. The amount and type of pesticide (known as a tolerance), is limited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DPR’s Residue Monitoring Program staff carries out random inspections to verify that these limits are not exceeded.

The produce is tested in laboratories using state-of-the-art equipment operated by California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In 2013, these scientists frequently detected illegal pesticide residues on produce including:

  • Cactus Pads from Mexico,
  • Ginger from China,
  • Snow Peas from Guatemala and
  • Spinach from the US

Most of the 2013 illegal pesticide residues were found in produce imported from other countries and contained very low levels (a fraction of a part per million). The majority of the time they did not pose a health risk.

One exception occurred in 2013 when DPR discovered Cactus pads, imported from Mexico, that were tainted with an organophosphate-based pesticide. This had the potential to sicken people. DPR worked with the CA. Dept. of Public Health to issue an alert to consumers in February 2014. DPR also worked diligently to remove the entire product it from store shelves and distribution centers. In addition, DPR asked the US Food and Drug Administration to inspect produce at the borders and points of entry to stop shipments into California.

California has been analyzing produce for pesticide residues since 1926 and has developed the most extensive pesticide residue testing program of its kind in the nation. The 2013 pesticide residue monitoring data and previous years are posted at: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/enforce/residue/rsmonmnu.htm

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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

 

 

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