Feds shutter pesticide testing program

Photo credit: Shawn Econo

The Bush administration closed a government program that has tested pesticide levels "in fruits, vegetables and field crops" for the past eighteen years. The White House states the $8 million price tag is too steep, according to The Seattle Times:

Data from the 18-year-old Agricultural Chemical Usage Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) were collected until this year, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used the data to set safe levels of pesticides in food.

The information was also widely used by university and food-industry researchers, including a University of Illinois program to help farmers reduce the amount of pesticides they use.

One of the central philosophies that got us into the current financial mess is deregulation. As government turns a blind eye to corporate conduct, more in the corporate sector begin to cut corners, shave costs and increase profits. When it comes to hosing pesticides on crops, those costs may come in the form of Americans' well-being.

Would it have been more prudent to increase taxes on those industrial farmers who continue to use certain levels of pesticides? I'm not sure, but it seems like a sensible interim solution. Rewarding those farmers and companies who seek to lessen chemical influence on our food, environment, and our bodies, and have those who continue using chemicals help offset the cost of testing for those chemicals.

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