Robert Hunter

PesticideFacts.org Informing Consumers About Pesticides and Human Health

Pesticides are important because they enable farmers to produce abundant, safe, quality foods at affordable prices. These products are safe with proper use because they are highly tested before entering the marketplace and strictly regulated afterwards. Experts agree that normal exposure to pesticides does not cause health problems in either users or consumers. Yet, there is significant confusion in the public about these valuable tools.

That’s why PesticideFacts.org was launched by CropLife International in June 2018. It explains the benefits of pesticides, their testing and regulation, user and consumer safety, pesticide residues, and the latest science regarding specific medical conditions most commonly and erroneously associated with pesticides. These conditions include autism, birth defects and reproductive problems, cancer, developmental delays, diabetes and obesity, and Parkinson’s disease.

In addition, monthly perspectives on timely topics by a range of independent experts are featured on PesticideFacts.org. For example, in a recent perspective, Dr. Carol Burns, epidemiologist, explains why pesticides were an unlikely cause of her own thyroid cancer.

Lastly, the website includes multi-media resources – from scientific studies to infographics and videos – plus a social media feed and reader feedback forms. Our goal is to facilitate transparent and educational dialogue with the public about pesticides and health.

Prior to launching PesticideFacts.org, CropLife International conducted focus groups and online surveys in key countries around the world to understand what the public needs and wants to know about pesticides. The information on the website addresses our findings in four key topics:

1. Pesticides are Important
By 2050, growers will need to produce up to 70 percent more food for 9 billion+ people. This staggering percentage is further challenged by the fact that one of seven people worldwide are currently hungry. Pesticides are one of our main tools to address these problems by enabling farmers to grow more food on less land as well as raise productivity per hectare. Pesticides also help improve food quality by decreasing harmful micro-organisms and naturally occurring toxins in crops, preventing illnesses.

2. Pesticides are Highly Regulated
Pesticides are among the most tested and regulated products in the world to ensure they are not harmful to people with normal use. To bring a new pesticide to market, it takes about 11 years of research and development. Scientists screen an average of 160,000 molecules just to find one with the right properties to address a pest problem. Then they conduct multiple tests to ensure the molecule is developed into a product that is safe and effective. Once commercialized, it must be re-registered on a regular basis to ensure it continues to meet regulatory requirements based on current science.

3. Pesticides are Safe for Consumers
Pesticide residues – measurable traces of pesticides on harvested crops – on food are very low if present at all. Regulators set very strict limits on residues with safety margins at least 100 times lower that of validated safety levels. These limits are based on the amount of potential residue that can be consumed in a lifetime without posing any risk to health. Moreover, systems are in place worldwide to monitor that residues are within safety limits. The weight of scientific evidence does not associate pesticides with human diseases or health problems with normal exposure and use.

4. Pesticides are Safe for Users
Similarly, there is no scientific evidence that normal exposure to pesticides causes health problems in those exposed to them the most – pesticide users. In fact, the largest population studies on agricultural workers show that they are healthier than the general population with lower incidence of most cancer types and greater longevity. Moreover, pesticide manufacturers put in place numerous safety measures to prevent misuse of their products and farm workers are trained – nearly 4 million in 82 countries to date – in the responsible and minimal use of pesticides through CropLife International programs. Millions more been trained by member companies like Bayer Crop Science.

Robert Hunter, Executive Director of Crop Protection at CropLife International in Brussels, Belgium
Robert Hunter, Executive Director of Crop Protection at CropLife International in Brussels, Belgium
Robert Hunter,
Executive Director of Crop Protection at CropLife International in Brussels, Belgium

Ultimately, CropLife International and its member companies aim to be transparent and communicative about pesticides to assure consumers worldwide about food production. To this end, check out PesticideFacts.org and sign up to receive monthly perspectives. Also, follow CropLife International on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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