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

InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
InsecticidesEPA Grants Besiege Insecticide Additional Approvals
June 18, 2014
EPA has granted additional registration approvals for the use of Syngenta's Besiege insecticide on sorghum, cereal grains and peanuts. Read More
InsecticidesPrevathon Insect Control Approved For Cereal Crops
January 13, 2014
DuPont's Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received U.S. EPA registration for use on cereal crops, including wheat, most other small grains and sorghum. Read More
InsecticidesInsecticides 2014: Insect Pressure, Solutions On The Rise
January 2, 2014
Bt resistance, weather concerns and myriad other issues have led to an increase in both traditional pest pressures as well as new pests. Read More

Top 100 Articles

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Management2014: Looking Back, Looking Forward
December 22, 2014
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss key emerging issues from the year past that retailers will be watching closely in Read More
FungicidesAlfalfa Expert: Root Rot More Widespread Than Previousl…
December 22, 2014
Once thought of as a wet-soil disease, aphanomyces root rot is more widespread than many realize. Read More
Seed/BiotechKaren Arthur Joins AgriThority As Seed Treatment Produc…
December 19, 2014
Prior to joining AgriThority, Arthur directed research and development programs, overseeing laboratory and field research, to build the Valent U.S.A. seed treatment portfolio. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere To Sell Crop Insurance Business
December 19, 2014
Deere & Co. has reached a definitive agreement to sell its crop insurance business, subject to regulatory approval, to Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. of Iowa. Read More
Crop InputsNufarm Fills Regulatory VP Position
December 18, 2014
Nufarm announced today that Rob Schwehr has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Innovation & Regulatory Affairs for Nufarm Americas. Read More
Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More