As we head into 2015, it’s a good time to reflect. Family farmers can feel good about the safety record of the crops and foods you produce. No doubt that safety is questioned by some of your friends and family, and most certainly in the news. But the most recent data from USDA shows that when it comes to pesticides, you’re doing great.
“Pesticides” or “chemicals” are at the top of many consumers’ worry lists. They typically don’t really know what specifically they’re worrying about, and perhaps that makes it even worse. Recent Illinois Farm Families research indicates that the topic of pesticides and insecticides is the most worrisome to consumers when asked to choose from 9 topics. IL Corn is a member of the IFF coalition along with the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, and Midwest Dairy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The PDP summary confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.
The 2013 PDP Annual Summary shows that over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.23 percent of the samples tested. The PDP pesticide residue results are reported to FDA and EPA through monthly reports. In instances where a PDP finding is extraordinary and may pose a safety risk, FDA and EPA are immediately notified. EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.
Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2013, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, infant formula, butter, salmon, groundwater, and drinking water. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide chemical residue levels on selected foods. The EPA uses data from PDP to enhance its programs for food safety and help evaluate dietary exposure to pesticides.