Tests Show Low or No Pesticide Levels in Most Fruits and Vegetables in California
By Charlotte Fadipe, California DPR
Once again, tests showed that the vast majority of fresh produce collected by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) met national pesticide residue standards. During its 2017 survey, DPR found 96 percent of all samples had no detectable pesticide residues or were below levels allowed by the U.S. EPA.
The findings are included in DPR’s just released 2017 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Produce report.
“DPR carries out an extensive sampling of pesticides on fresh produce, and once again it shows that California consumers can be confident about eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Brian Leahy, Director of DPR. “California growers and farmers are adept at following our comprehensive rules to ensure produce is grown to the highest pesticide standards.”
The 2017 report is based on a year-round collection of 3,695 samples of produce from 28 different countries, including those labeled as “organic.” DPR scientists sampled produce from various grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food distribution centers, and other outlets throughout California. The produce is tested for more than 400 types of pesticides using state-of-the-art equipment operated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) sets levels for the maximum amounts of pesticide residue that can be present on fruits and vegetables, called a “tolerance.” It is a violation if any residue exceeds the tolerance for the specific fruit or vegetable, or if a pesticide is detected for which no tolerance has been established.
California Specific Results
More than a third of the country’s fruits and vegetables are grown in California, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In 2017 DPR found:
-About 25 percent of all produce samples tested were labeled as Californian-grown,
-About 95 percent of these samples had no residues on them or were within the legal levels,
-About 5 percent of California samples had illegal residues, including kale and snow peas. These are pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity. However, none of those residues were at a level that would pose a health risk to consumers.
Other highlights from the 2017 report include:
-41 percent of all produce samples had no detectable residues at all,
-55 percent had residues detected within the legal level.
-4 percent of all the samples had pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity.
The Positives of Pest Management
By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
There’s a case to be made for both organic and conventional farming, but make no mistake that they both have the same intention: safe food for human consumption. Few people know this better than Brian Leahy, chief of the Department of Pesticide Regulation in California, one of the 16 agencies under the umbrella of the California Environmental Protection Agency.
There are certain precautions that all farmers need to take to ensure our produce is of the highest quality, one of which is the use of pesticides. Leahy explained that yes, even organic growers require pesticides to protect their crop.
“When your food leaves the farm, it goes through a lot of pest management,” Leahy continued, “We’re doing it every day, so let’s acknowledge that it’s there.”
The fact is, everyone uses pesticides, whether it be in the grocery store or our very own homes, and if they are not properly managed it can lead to trouble.
“We’re all in this pest management together. Let’s start putting the resources into it so that we do it in a way we think we want,” Leahy concluded.
To find out how DPR regulates pesticide use, go here.
#GiveACrop: Simple Message About Crop Protection Tools
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
Sarah Macedo is the communications manager for CropLife America, a trade association that assists and advocates for their members, based in Washington D.C. They are the manufacturers, formulators, and distributors that manufacture organic and non-organic pesticides,
Macedo explained the #GiveACrop campaign, which puts a positive message for the need for crop protection products in agriculture.
“Go to GiveACrop.org, take a look at those memes along with myths and facts. We just want to talk about things in a realistic person-to-person way and not get too into this science, but just kind of talk about why pesticides are necessary,” Macedo said.
“Regarding the Give a Crop videos, we have heard from both farmer friends, adversaries, and consumers. We had a lot of the FFA kids who absolutely love them, which is great since that is our target audience; we do know that they are sharing that with their friends who are in the on-ag space,” she noted.
“We don’t have a lot of money behind it, so we have been promoting it on social media, and we’ve gotten great pickup even from folks who normally aren’t the friendliest in the ag space. They’ll watch one, and they’ll have posted and saying, ‘we may not necessarily agree, but these are funny and to the point,’” Macedo explained
Again, Crop Life America is a trade association representing the manufacturers, formulators, and distributors of organic and non-organic pesticides.
“We include government affairs, science and regulatory communications experts, and those from the legal profession who help our members, and our members And we advocate on their behalf to make sure that no regulations are going unchecked, that everything is based on sound science and getting the information out about the benefits of pesticides and why they’re used and about American farming in general,” Macedo said.
Microbes Company Promotes Biostimulants for Ag
By Mikenzi Meyers, Contributing Editor
The term “regulation” is often an unattractive vernacular for farmers and ranchers, just as “pesticide” or “chemical use” would be for the uneducated public. Amy Roberts, Regulatory Affairs Manager for Lallemand Plant Care based in Montreal, Canada, is working to make both sides come together.
California Ag Today caught her comments at the 2018 Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) Fall Meeting and Sustainability Symposium in Rochester. Roberts has been appointed the 2019 chair of BPIA
Lallemand Plant Care is a company that specializes in the use of microbes in agriculture for pesticides and biostimulants. However, Roberts has assisted them in taking on an even greater task.
“We’d like to be a voice to help improve things in a regulatory standpoint and perception standpoint,” she explained, and with the organization growing to represent the industry as a whole, “the goal seems tangible.”
This doesn’t come without its obstacles though, and Roberts noted that there is a lack of clarity for the regulatory framework, making products harder to market.
“It’s challenging for people to market them, and it’s challenging for growers and users to understand what they are and how they should be using them,” she said.
This combined with the continuous hesitation towards pesticides and biostimulants from people unfamiliar with the industry makes education and understanding on both ends that much more important.
More information can be found at www.bpia.org
Soares: DPR Interpretation of Cannabis is Wrong
By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
George Soares, a partner in Kahn, Soares, and Conway, a law firm based in Sacramento, recently spoke about the issues surrounding cannabis. He is managing partner of the firm and represents several agricultural commodity and trade groups in Sacramento.
He spoke at the recent California Associations of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA) annual meeting in Anaheim. He touched on the fact that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is not thinking of the public in their handling of crop protection materials on cannabis.
“The people of California have decided that cannabis can be consumed by the public,” Soares said. “The question is how to grow the cannabis under the regulation.
Currently, the chemicals and fertilizers used to grow the cannabis are all illegal.
“So far, the solution is that we make it legal by stretching the interpretation of the law,” he explained.
By law, pesticides have to be labeled for use, and eligible crops must be on the label.
“The pesticides being used are being interpreted in ways to make it legal to use on cannabis,” Soares said. “Think about the damage that is doing to the legal structure of what we all adhere to.”
“DPR would never let a pesticide be used off-label, but when it comes to cannabis, it looks like the government is willing to let it slide,” he said.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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
#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.