Just Read It

2/28/2014 5:05 PM

Consumers are clearly interested in food safety issues, specifically about information concerning pesticide residues.  Evidence of this interest becomes apparent whenever a story is written or aired on the subject which usually results in lengthy comment streams or lively discussions and debate on social media channels. 

So why is it that when a comprehensive government report is issued about pesticide residues, little attention is paid to it? The findings of the USDA Pesticide Data Program report which were released last week is important information that consumers should know and yet there has been very little media coverage or social media chatter. 

Shouldn’t consumers know that both EPA and USDA state that “residues do not pose a food safety concern” based upon sampling data findings?  Shouldn’t they know that the government report also showed that 99.7% of foods sampled through the PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances?  That’s a pretty impressive percentage and shows that organic and conventional farmers are doing an enviable job following the laws and regulations governing pesticide use in this country.  It seems like great food safety news from the government should be shared with consumers, doesn’t it?  They are interested, after all.

But instead of fact based information, consumers hear regular and inaccurate messages about their produce being “dirty” or laden with “toxic and persistent pesticides” from the likes of Dr. Oz and many others while real data and science is repeatedly ignored.  It’s frustrating and, more importantly, it’s a disservice to public health initiatives which are focused on increasing our daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Ironically, in about two months, an activist group will release its annual “dirty” produce, “clean” produce lists which it develops by manipulating the USDA PDP report data and combining years-old data to exaggerate residue findings. Despite lacking scientific credibility, these “lists” do generate media coverage and online chatter because of this group’s well orchestrated marketing and promotion campaign. 

But, on behalf of the farmers we represent, the AFF would ask that before covering this annual list release or posting the content on social channels, to please just read the actual USDA report.  Or, at least the press release and the government’s advice for consumers.  Then compare/contrast that government report content with what the activist group is saying.  You might come away with a very different impression of the pesticide residue issue and, like many others have recently realized, discover that these “lists” are not science or risk based and simply aren’t worth publicizing or posting.  And maybe the USDA PDP is.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional produce for improved health and a longer life.


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