In late February, the United States Department of Agriculture released its annual Pesticide Data Program report results. Once again, USDA strongly reiterated that “U.S. food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.” The Environmental Protection Agency echoed that statement and added that “EPA remains committed to a rigorous, science-based and transparent regulatory program for pesticides.” But this year, under the Obama Administration, both the USDA and EPA did a stellar job further explaining to consumers about the food safety processes in the “Q and A” and “What Consumers Should Know” portions of the PDP report. Both sections clearly and concisely explained how the government and corresponding regulatory processes and systems are protective of all consumers, including infants and pregnant women. We applaud the inclusion of this food safety information within the context of the report since it will be so very reassuring to consumers. While the issue of pesticide residues often gets attention from both social and traditional media outlets, the release of this report and the important accompanying statements by USDA/EPA receive very little coverage each year. The adage that “good news rarely gets attention” may apply here. Ironically, there are groups that manipulate and twist the USDA PDP results to generate their own “reports” in a manner that unfairly disparages the safety of conventionally grown, affordable produce. This misleading information raises fear and concerns among consumers and, unfortunately, does generate media coverage since it communicates perceived “bad news.” But, raising fear without facts is a disservice to families trying to put healthy food on the table. And this manipulation of government data at the expense of consumer confidence is a detriment to public health, especially when Americans need to include more fruits and veggies in their daily diets. Families deserve factual, science based and balanced information. The Obama Administration provided that on Friday through the information presented in the Pesticide Data Report. Hopefully, when faced with future manipulations of the PDP report, consumers and others will go back, review the content of the report and remember what was actually said – it was, in fact, very good news.

  • Too bad that while PDP is doing great work, USDA recently closed down a sister program – the Microbiological Data Program.  CDC recently reported that approximately 46% of food borne outbreaks they have investigated can be linked to produce sources.  While we can feel confident about lower levels of pesticides in produce, we have some serious problems with Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli  in various produce commodities.  The MDP identified multiple instances of produce contamination that was causing human illness through 10 sentinel sites located in state public health laboratories.  With the program closed, surveillance testing capacity has been severely reduces or eliminated!  Given the high percentage of outbreaks linked to produce, I think we can and should do better.

  • farmber

    Yet another story of how Toxic Pesticides are Good for You.

    Ah, the Public Relations and Issues Management of it all — from the Agribusiness Alliance for Food and Farming spin doctors…

  • Oginikwe

    When will they test and release the results of imported fruits and vegetables? 

  • oldcowvet

    not sure where it said pesticides are good for you, I believe th epoint is that the levels are extremely low and do not pose a threat, 2 different things entirely.  I think more to the point that the risk of not eating f+v far outways the risk of ppb or pesticides.