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

Crop InputsCreate a ‘No-Mite Zone’ Around Your Fields
July 13, 2017
Explosive. That’s one way to describe the speed at which mite infestations in crops can develop under the right conditions. 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
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
Trending Articles
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality Practices
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Cause of Gar Tootelian Fire Under Investigation
August 7, 2017
Over one hundred firefighters and equipment responded to a four-alarm shop fire at the Gar Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) facility in Read More
Rob Versprille
ManagementCeres Solutions, North Central Co-op Merger to Bring New Opportunities for Indiana, Michigan Farmers
August 1, 2017
More than 40,000 customers and almost 9,000 Indiana and Michigan farmers will begin doing business with the new Ceres Solutions Read More
CPS-Norwood-and-Dupont-reps
Eric SfiligojA Message to Ag Retailers: Do Tell Your Good Stories
July 26, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance ag Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Lindsay Corp.
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
Latest News
Corn Seed
Seed/BiotechSeed Innovations Benefit All of the Seed Industry
August 17, 2017
Innovations from throughout the seed industry help address many of the economic, environmental and health issues we face as a Read More
SpreadersGVM to Introduce New Prowler at MAGIE
August 17, 2017
The newest Prowler in GVM’s line-up will be introduced next week at the Midwest Ag Industries Expo (MAGIE), August 23 Read More
AcreEdge bag
Seed/BiotechLandus Cooperative’s AcreEdge Seed Brand Gears Up for 2…
August 17, 2017
Growers in more than 26 Iowa and Minnesota counties are seeing field signs with a new brand name at end Read More
Engenia soybeans
ManagementCorn and Soybean Yield Forecasts Larger than Expected
August 17, 2017
The USDA’s August Crop Production report contained larger-than-expected forecasts for the 2017 U.S. corn and soybean crops. At 169.5 bushels Read More
ManagementU.S. Ag Secretary Introduces SCORE
August 17, 2017
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a new agreement to support new and beginning farmers. On August 5, Perdue joined Read More
CHS-FFA-Minnesota
CropLife 100CHS and FFA: A Homerun Partnership
August 17, 2017
CHS hosted the Minnesota FFA for its annual FFA night at CHS Field. FFA students, educators and CHS leadership enjoyed Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Gar Tootelian Foundation Donates Half Million Dollars t…
August 16, 2017
Students at Immanuel Elementary are looking forward to the first day of school for two reasons this year. One, they Read More
Water Drainage
StewardshipNew System Could Remove Two Water Pollutants from Ag Fi…
August 14, 2017
Algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico use up the majority of the oxygen in the water, leading to massive Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Top 10 Crop Protection Companies, Post-Mega Mergers
August 14, 2017
Everyone loves a good Top 10 list. In fact, some prominent celebrities such as David Letterman spent much of their Read More
ManagementThe DuPont-Granular Deal, Dicamba Update, and Upcoming …
August 11, 2017
Matthew Grassi joins Paul Schrimpf for the second week in a row to talk about DuPont’s acquisition of Granular, as Read More
Soybeans weeds
HerbicidesOngoing Evaluation Key to Controlling Weeds, Improving …
August 10, 2017
As the sun bears down on record U.S. soybean acres this August, farmers keep their eyes on their fields to Read More
Young Corn Plants
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Offers Novel Product to Battle Pythium, O…
August 10, 2017
After a season plagued by seedling diseases caused by cool, wet soils at planting, farmers have a new option to Read More
Corn Field
FertilizerProtect Applied Manure Straight From the Manure Pit to …
August 10, 2017
Farmers who use liquid manure to fertilize corn crops can now mix Instinct nitrogen stabilizer in their pit for easy Read More
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality…
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Natives-First-Purple_Prairie_Clover
Seed/BiotechLa Crosse Seed Continues Focus on Soil and Water Conser…
August 9, 2017
La Crosse Seed is doing its part to lead communication to ag retailers across the country on the importance of Read More
HerbicidesAg Secretary Perdue Comments on Dicamba Issue
August 9, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated to reporters this week that he would like to see the industry work out a Read More
Treated-Seed-in-planter
Seed/BiotechSeed Treatment Q&A: Insight from Iowa State’s…
August 8, 2017
Technology has changed drastically since the 1990s. Televisions are thinner, phones are smaller and tractors can steer themselves. Technology has Read More
soybeans
Seed/BiotechWhen and Why to Double Inoculate Your Soybeans
August 8, 2017
Double inoculation is the act of using a double application of a rhizobial inoculant. This quickly establishes high populations of Read More