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Pesticides? What Pesticides?

November 11, 2008

Since the early 1990’s, the USDA has collected detailed data across the country about the application of dangerous pesticides. This information was made public after it was collected. Sounds like a good idea, right? Even if we’re not quite sure exactly if or how these things are bad, best to keep tabs on them, right? Wrong! You’re clearly not thinking with the best interests of innocent lobbyists at heart.

This year, the USDA only released 2007 pesticide data for apples and cotton, meaning no corn, no soybeans and no wheat, some of the largest consumers of pesticides in the country. Corn and soybeans haven’t been measured for the past two years either, and it doesn’t seem like any data was collected this year, so we’re going to be blind until someone (Obama and an overwhelmingly democratic congress) pressures the USDA into collecting adequate data again. The current blank spot means that we have no information on what is most likely a dramatic increase in pesticide use on corn and soybeans since 2005 resulting from increased use of Roundup Ready corn and soy.

This lack of data will dramatically compromise efforts to understand the industrial food system and potential risks that pesticide application could pose to consumers and the environment, but that data can’t be collected now, so there’s no use dwelling on it. Obama has already proven that he’s at least aware of food issues, and with the increased concerns about industrial ag in the general public, it would be a sin if this data wasn’t collected again this year. Some of us are already convinced that these chemicals are dangerous, but data collection doesn’t even require that, even a small doubt is reason enough to be concerned.

Pesticides and Food: Flying Blind. From the Organic Center.

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