Crop protection vital to a safe, nutritious, abundant food supply

Thursday, July 12, 2012
Sustainability

By Kent Rupprecht

It’s a summertime joy to drive the back roads of America and stop at local farm stands for produce fresh from the field.

You can enjoy this seasonal pleasure guilt-free (after all, fruits and veggies contribute to good health). And worry-free. While certain advocacy groups raise health concerns about pesticide residue in fresh produce, their claims tend to lack credibility.

We should know.

Bayer Crop Science develops crop protection products necessary to produce a safe, nutritious and abundant food supply. Bringing these products to market involves rigorous research and laboratory testing by scientists and researchers. In fact, according to Purdue University it takes an average 8 to 10 years and an investment of $180 million before a pest control product is ready for sale.

For good reason, crop protection companies are one of the most highly regulated businesses and our products must meet stringent Environmental Protection Agency standards. The EPA requires more than 100 different scientific studies before a new crop protection product can be registered. Toxicology and exposure studies must demonstrate there is “reasonable certainty” that the pesticide will not harm human health (including reproduction and development) or pose unreasonable risks to the environment.

A legacy of safe products
If a product fails to meet these federal safety standards, we stop. Yes, that’s right, we discontinue the work and focus on other potential products.

With Bayer’s roots in human, animal and plant health products, scientific rigor is the cornerstone of our efforts to protect our crops from global challenges such as insects, disease and climate change. With the aid of crop protection and pest control technologies we are able to realize increased food production. Increased production translates to a greater variety of high-quality fresh fruit and vegetables available at a lower cost to the consumer on a year-round basis.

Regardless of whether you choose organic or conventionally grown produce, consume fruits and vegetables with confidence. According to the American Cancer Society and Canadian National Cancer Institute “the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables far outweigh the minimal risks associated with pesticide residues… “

In a similar vein the American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and National Cancer Institute agree the only proven way to reduce the risk of cancer is to eat more fruits and vegetables. And according to the National Cancer Institute, “There is no scientific evidence that the ingestion of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables causes cancer in humans.”

Considering the science behind crop protection products and the benefits of using them, let’s change the conversation to more pressing food and health concerns. Perhaps we should talk more about feeding an ever-growing world population, protecting the health and handling of our harvests, helping fight childhood obesity and diabetes, addressing food insecurity and reducing food waste. Let me know what you think about these issues.

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(Kent Rupprecht is one of the scientists at Bayer CropScience responsible for dietary safety. He is a pharmacist and studied medicinal chemistry with an interest in natural products chemistry.)

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