The influence of public opinion on pesticide policy is taking center stage at the 2016 CropLife America (CLA) and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)Spring Conference. This year’s theme, Regulation By Twitter, challenges participants to consider their role in communicating the complex science behind pesticide regulation to consumers. The annual conference officially kicks-off with a reception at 5:30 p.m. today at the Renaissance Capitol View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. Programming begins tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. and will feature panelists working in areas across the pesticide registration lifecycle.

“Each year, our Spring Conference provides an opportunity for our members to have conversations with staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and a wide range of other key stakeholders, and we invite all who are interested to join our discussions,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “Our communities across the U.S. depend on the work of CLA and RISE members to keep their families fed and safe from pests and disease. This year’s conference will focus on how we explain the science behind our products and processes, so we can give families more confidence in the food they eat and the products they use at home. Increased understanding is the key to reducing fear and preventing uninformed opinions from affecting our proven regulatory process.”

The 2016 CLA & RISE Spring Conference features an array of scientific and regulatory topics with more than 50 speakers from regulatory agencies, academia, the scientific community and industry. Attendees will be able to discuss the latest science in an open environment and learn more about the issues facing the crop protection and specialty pesticide industries. Session topics include precision agriculture, updates on the Food Quality Protection Act, pollinator health, the Endangered Species Act, international trade, and the use of epidemiology in human health risk assessment.

“During this year’s conference, we are expanding our annual interactive session for EPA staff, focusing on how specialty products are purpose-built from R&D through application and how product stewardship impacts each step in the process of delivering a solution to the market,” said Aaron Hobbs, RISE president. “Vector control is also a focus for us this year with a session describing the important and different roles pesticides play in Zika virus prevention here in the U.S. and around the world.”

The opening general session, taking place April 13, will feature experts that will examine why consumers make specific choices and how communication around pesticide regulation may affect those decisions. Dr. Henry Miller from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University will specifically look at the reasoning behind consumer choices. Following Dr. Miller, Emily Schmidt, an Emmy-award winning journalist and co-founder of Speaki2i, will discuss the importance of messaging and how conference attendees can adjust their approach to relaying information to consumers.

“Scientists are each experts in their respective fields of study, but almost all of us can learn how to better explain how our work contributes to the safest food supply in the world, and the safest communities,” noted Dr. Janet E. Collins, CLA’s senior vice president of science and regulatory affairs. “This year’s conference will also highlight the importance of restoring rigorous risk-based science to the process of crop protection and specialty pesticide regulation, a message we should share with consumers as well.”