In issuing a report about the chemical levels on foods, the USDA has announced that “U.S. food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.”

The Environmental Protection Agency echoed that assessment and added that “EPA remains committed to a rigorous, science-based and transparent regulatory program for pesticides.”

The 2011 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) summary confirms similar findings in previous years dealing with pesticide residues on foodstuffs; that overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were well below the tolerances set by the EPA. This report showed that residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.27 percent of the samples tested. Some residues were found with no established tolerance levels or tolerance exemptions, but EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk.

However, results of the 2011 PDP report – the most recent statistics available on the subject which are reported annually – did include new sections added by the Obama administration. One portion dealt with a “Q and A,” and another provided information about “What Consumers Should Know.”Both sections clearly and concisely explain how the government and corresponding regulatory processes and systems are protective of all consumers, including infants and pregnant women. 

The troubling aspect of such a positive report by the federal agencies overseeing food production and food safety in the U.S. is that there are certain environmental groups that will never be satisfied with any testing the agencies do.  For those skeptics, the USDA, EPA and especially state regulatory agencies are viewed with suspicion – often accused as serving as “shills and lackeys” for Corporate Agriculture.  

 

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Unfortunately these doomsayers won’t be happy until pesticides are eliminated from food production altogether, regardless of the ramifications that would result in attempting to feed a growing global population.  Some of these groups manipulate and twist government reports such as the USDA PDP to generate their “own reports” in a manner that unfairly blemishes the safety of conventionally grown, affordable produce.  This “misinformation” often raises fear and concerns among consumers and, sadly, does generate negative mainstream media coverage that tarnishes the whole agriculture industry.  

There are many reasons for some environmental groups to disseminate exaggerated risks and scare stories; grant funding is a key one; fund-raising through well-intentioned consumer donations another. But, raising fear without facts is a disservice to American families striving to put healthy, safe and affordable food on the dinner table.

This “smear campaign” has led to consumers becoming distrustful about the food that they eat, sometimes avoiding healthy fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. They have begun questioning federal regulatory agencies and public health organizations for reasons based solely on fear mongering tactics.  But families deserve better – they have the right to factual, science-based and balanced and truthful information.  The Obama Administration fortunately provided this clarification in this latest USDA PDP report that can be viewed at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.