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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
ing and a systems approach. Pavich feels that basic knowledge of soil microbiology is the critical scarce information and that such knowledge is the key to successful organic farming (Pavich 1998; Pavich Family Farms 1998).
USDA National Organic Standards Program
In December 1997, USDA announced its National Organic Standards Program proposed rule, which would end a patchwork of more than 3 dozen state and private certification standards for organic agricultural products. The rule addresses federal requirements for producing, handling, and labeling organic agricultural products. It provides requirements for certification of organic production, accreditation of state and private certifying agents, equivalence of foreign organic certification programs, approval of state organic programs, and user fees. The proposed rule, however, did not specifically eliminate the use of genetically engineered crops, sewage sludge, and irradiation on products designated as organic. USDA received a record 275,000 public comments against the inclusion of sludge, genetically engineered crops, and irradiation and only 19 in favor of their inclusion. USDA made fundamental revisions to the proposed rule in response to the public comments (USDA 1998), including banning the use of irradiation, sewer sludge, and genetic engineering in the production of any organic foods or ingredients (Glickman 2000).
Eco-labelling is a new technique used by retailers to provide consumers with the right to the information on and the production method of the origin of the food product they are purchasing. Eco-labelling is gaining attention in global trade, not only as it applies to pesticide residues, but also to address concerns about food produced from genetically modified seed. A growing trend in the US food industry is to use eco-labelling to inform the consumer of the specific agricultural practices used to make the product. The labels tout environmentally or eco-friendly production practices that conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and use low-chemical integrated pest management (IPM). This niche, which is broader than existing organic production, does not specifically exclude synthetic chemicals in crop production.
Efforts to increase revenue through “green” or “eco” labels are worldwide. In Europe integrated fruit production (IFP) represents economical and safer production with a goal of overall reduction in pesticide use. Growers have agreed to 13 guidelines for pome production in Europe,