Trend toward reduced risk pesticides
“It is very gratifying, but not surprising, to see these numbers so clearly reflect the shift in farming practices to IPM and other environmentally-friendly farming methods over the past decade,” said Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming. “We knew this trend was happening but it is good to see it quantified in this analysis.”
The Alliance report details how farmers are transitioning to reduce or eliminate use of the most strictly regulated pesticides as they strive to protect beneficial insects as a means of controlling damaging pests. However, the report also notes the judicious use of pesticides is important for farmers and can be crucial to IPM systems.
“As any home gardener knows, insect pests reproduce rapidly. The ability to apply conventionally and organically approved pesticides is still important to maintain as some pest outbreaks can be difficult to control,” explains Wells. “In addition, California is increasingly experiencing the introduction of exotic pests which have the ability to destroy an entire crop, compromise the health of our forests and can be devastating to landscaping and home gardeners.”
“Whenever pesticides are used by California farmers, that use is strictly controlled by the most advanced regulatory system in the nation,” adds Dolan. “Farmers who grow the food you see in stores also feed it to their own families. In addition, they often live and work on their farms, which is strong motivation to use the most up-to-date and safest tools to control pests and diseases.”
The full report on Pesticide Use Trends in California is available on the Alliance for Food and Farming’s Web site at www.foodandfarming.info as well as on a special Web site that provides credible, science-based information to address common fears about pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables at www.safefruitsandveggies.com.
Highlights from Report:
- There has been a significant reduction in the use of older, more highly regulated organophosphate and carbamate pesticides in California. Their use has declined 66 percent in the past 12 years.
- The amount of these older, more highly regulated pesticides is far, far lower when compared with other pesticide classes including many newer, safer and more environmentally-friendly pesticides and those approved for use on organic crops. Currently, these older compounds comprise just 2 percent of the total pesticides used in California.
- The reduction in use of older compounds indicates that California farmers are, in fact, successfully transitioning away from use of broad-based pesticides. This is likely the result of increased development and adoption of Integrated Pest Management strategies and a move toward softer, more environmentally-friendly compounds.
- There is still a need for farmers to maintain the ability to use some of these older compounds for many reasons including the resistance of pests to more frequently used materials; the influx of exotic pests; and the lack of suitable alternatives in some instances. In addition, these materials may play a key role when used as a last resort to gain control of a pest outbreak that has overwhelmed an Integrated Pest Management system, allowing growers to re-establish IPM strategies.
- It is important to note that these older compounds are also the most highly regulated. In California, which has the strictest pesticide regulations in the world, farmers using these products are subject to as many as 70 different laws and regulations each time an application is made.
- Findings from the analysis conducted in California are similar to those reported by the U.S. Environmental Pesticide Agency concerning pesticide sales and usage throughout the nation.