Thursday, September 23, 2010

Environmental Working Group doesn't like federal pesticides grant

A federal grant to help soften public perceptions of pesticides on fresh produce has drawn fire from the Environmental Working Group.

The grant — $180,000 delivered through USDA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program — supports efforts by the Alliance for Food and Farming to counter "the misconception that some fresh produce items contain excessive amounts of pesticide residues," according to the Alliance's project description.

"Claims by activist groups about unsafe levels of pesticides have been widely reported in the media for many years, but have largely gone uncontested," the Alliance says.

EWG says the money will help stall the growth of organics in the marketplace.

“This grant is a slap in the face of California’s rapidly-advancing organic agriculture sector,” said EWG President Ken Cook in a statement. “The state should think twice about using U.S. taxpayers’ money to attempt to give chemical-dependent industrial farming a competitive edge over organics.”

USDA's program also awarded over $800,000 to three projects that involve integrated pest management, which seeks to reduce pesticide use.

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