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

Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sulfoxaflor
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesDiflumax 2L Insect Growth Regulator Receives EPA Section 3 Registration
September 8, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the EPA Section 3 registration of its new Diflumax 2L Insecticide/Miticide. Containing the active Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesZeal SC Miticide Now Registered For Soybeans
August 9, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has announced the EPA registration of Zeal SC Miticide for soybeans. Zeal is a proven residual miticide Read More
Syngenta plant
InsecticidesGrowers, Distributors May Use Remaining Stocks Of Belt Insecticide
August 1, 2016
The U.S. EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has upheld an earlier EPA decision to cancel registration for Bayer’s insecticide flubendiamide, Read More
Trending Articles
AGCO RG700 cab
OpinionRoadblocks To Precision Ag Innovation
October 5, 2016
On August 29, I got to preside over the PrecisionAg Innovation Series event, “Game-Changing Advances in Precision Farming Technology,” developed Read More
J.C. Ramsdell containment system
EquipmentClear Opportunity In The Tank Market
October 4, 2016
Crop prices may be down, but steel prices are too — and that’s good news for retailers looking to add some Read More
WinField booth Farm Progress
Special ReportsTalking Weed Management Strategies At Farm Progress 2016
October 2, 2016
The annual Farm Progress Show — this year staged in Boone, IA — is always a great place to catch Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Latest News
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection…
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Adds Two Key Account Managers
October 13, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of two key account managers: Doug Hoberty and Rob Wier. Hoberty and Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Development Deal with Scherer Design
October 12, 2016
Deere & Co. announces a joint development agreement with Scherer Design Engineering, Inc. to develop and commercialize kernel processing solutions Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Celebrates 10 Years Of Innovati…
October 12, 2016
Richard Rominger, former Deputy Secretary of the USDA and former agricultural secretary of California, emceed a 10th anniversary luncheon celebration on Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Industry NewsVive Crop Protection Closes Financing To Support Corpor…
October 11, 2016
Vive Crop Protection has announced the closing of growth financing to support 2017 commercial expansion. The financing was led by Read More
SoftwareHD Precision Analytics Launches New Mobile App For Agri…
October 11, 2016
AGSentry from HD Precision Analytics is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that offers simple data service and actionable analytics tool. It focuses Read More
HerbicidesWeed Control And Soil Health Go Hand-in-Hand
October 10, 2016
Although many landowners may not give much thought to weed control as a soil health measure, Gared Shaffer, South Dakota Read More
Students Soybean Field
Eric Sfiligoj2016 Young Leaders Speak
October 10, 2016
One of the consistent cries in agriculture today is the need to try and connect with the younger generations, attempting Read More