CropLife America Takes Umbrage With “Dirty Dozen” List

Jay Vroom, CropLife AmericaThe results of a recent study commissioned by USDA and FDA, first reported by the environmental organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), are causing quite a stir in agriculture circles.

EWG’s report, in which the presence of pesticide residues found on conventional produce reported by EPA is analyzed, advises consumers to avoid 12 produce items that were “commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.” The produce items are also ranked in order of the highest concentrations of the chemicals found, and they are as follows: apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, potatoes, green beans and kale. These items make up EWGs’ self-proclaimed 2012 “Dirty Dozen” list.

The study also names a “Clean 15,” which is comprised of produce items with the lowest reported concentrations of insecticide residues found. They are onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon and mushrooms.

In a recent interview, CropLife America (CLA) President Jay Vroom cited several areas where the study could be construed as misleading, among them:

If you’re concerned about exposure to pesticide residues, simply switch to organic produce.

There are two concerns with this line of thinking, chiefly among them that switching to organic will lessen a consumer’s chance of coming into contact with pesticide residues. “Organic produce oftentimes has pesticide residues, some of the same compounds at trace levels that have been indicated on conventional produce, as well as organic-approved pesticide residues that many organic growers use to produce those crops,” says Vroom. “So, to suggest that organic produce is completely pesticide-free, which is the inference being made by members of the media that are picking this story up, is inherently false.”

Also, according to Vroom, the government has yet to institute a program to test for pesticide residues on organic produce of the scale of the testing of conventional.  “To my knowledge, the government has not done any exhaustive studies on pesticide residues on organic produce that would parallel the robustness of the pesticide data and surveillance program that the USDA has done now for the past 20-plus years,” he says. “There are spot checks over time though that shows that there are residues on organic produce, certainly of the pesticides that are certified for use by organic farmers.”

Another issue with telling folks to consume strictly organic produce is the sheer cost of the goods and the lack of access many have to organically grown foods.

“Clearly, there are some economic pressures that, should more people substantially increase demand for organic produce, it would have the effect of increasing prices as well,” says Vroom. “So in the short-term it could have additional negative consequences, but at the end of the day we’ve never seen any massive shift of produce consumption driven by the results of this study.”

“The bottom line is that we’re all in this together and we don’t see any real value in portraying agriculture as organic vs. conventional,” he adds. “Both systems have their role in responding to consumer demands and their contributions, but to advocate one over the other we don’t feel gains anyone any advantage, and certainly it doesn’t serve the consumer in any way.”

These are dangerous levels of pesticides that can directly and negatively affect our health.

To the contrary, Vroom and CLA believe otherwise: “Consuming the amounts of produce required to ingest anything close to a toxic amount of pesticides is basically impossible,” he says. “Also, if the level of pesticide residue is enough to cause any real damage to one’s health, it would probably indicate the produce as a whole is toxic.

“We’re talking about residue levels in the margins of, in most cases, the limits of science’s ability to even detect it,” Vroom adds. “It’s a minuscule amount, and we don’t deny that there is some pesticide exposure, but it is, in the vast majority of instances, not representative of any possible health concerns from consuming a normal amount of fruits and vegetables.”

The study itself is flawed.

According to the study method, the fruits and vegetables were washed as they normally would be by your average consumer. However, the problem with that, according to Vroom, is that some consumers are more vigilant than others when cleaning produce, so results could vary widely depending upon how thoroughly researchers washed the items.

“USDA follows a fairly standardized approach with regard to cold and hot water washing the produce before they analyze the samples,” says Vroom. “And it’s pretty clear to me that they don’t overdo the washing, so it probably does represent the least-careful consumer with regard to washing fruits and vegetables in their own kitchen. I would guess most of us probably put a little more rigor into that process than USDA would for this study.

“Now, it’s a fair point and it has to be said that we do believe the USDA is fair and consistent in their methods and all of that,” he adds. “But, is it possible that more residues could have been removed by more vigorous washing? Certainly.”

Leave a Reply

Insecticides Stories

Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesAMVAC Closes Deal for Three Product Line Acquisitions from Adama
June 6, 2017
AMVAC Chemical Corp. announced the closing of its acquisition of three new products to its portfolio – abamectin insecticide, chlorothalonil Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsFortenza Insecticide Seed Treatment Receives EPA Registration
May 25, 2017
Fortenza seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. EPA for use on corn and cotton Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatment of Soybean Aphids
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
Latest News
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situatio…
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
ManagementConsolidation Update
June 22, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss progress on manufacturer consolidation, and another big move for Midwest cooperative Central Valley Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Complet…
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening…
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New President
June 19, 2017
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Mary Tolke to the position of President/CEO, effective July 1. Read More
ManagementPlotting Corn, AGCO/Asmark’s Applicator Training Center…
June 15, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent visits to Columbus, OH, and Bloomington, IL, along with an Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 20…
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
ASMARK AGCO Applicator Training Center
EmployeesAsmark, AGCO Open Training Center for Beginning Applica…
June 13, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute have opened a new Applicator Training Center, created in a collaboration between the two Read More
Power to Do More Contest Winners
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Three Winners in Power to Do…
June 13, 2017
Thousands of votes have been cast and three farmers have been awarded the power to do more with a $10,000 Read More
Frogeye leaf spot
FungicidesStrobilurin-resistant Frogeye Leaf Spot Threat Looms wi…
June 13, 2017
Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterwa…
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Wheat Growers
UncategorizedWheat Growers Names Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice Presiden…
June 12, 2017
Wheat Growers has hired Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice President of Agronomy. Linbo joins Wheat Growers after having served 10 Read More
EquipmentAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Central Valley Ag Randolph, NE
Precision AgLand O’Lakes Invests in EFC Systems
June 12, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, Inc., an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision Read More
BRANDT
Crop InputsBRANDT Products Approved for Use with New Cropping Syst…
June 12, 2017
BRANDT, a leading manufacturer of specialty products for the agriculture and turf markets, has announced that 11 BRANDT formulations have Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soyb…
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More