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The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture
and inadequate effort in developing safer products and practices. Those problems are exacerbated by the collective importance of such crops in diversifying and enriching the United States diet. Funds should be assigned to study worker health and safety in specialty crops and to assess compliance with WPS. Without more detailed objective information on compliance, there is a reasonable doubt that the 1992 WPS is accomplishing its goal. Conducting an objective study of compliance with WPS will be difficult but important. It is imperative that the organization and individuals conducting such a study be unbiased and have no conflict of interest. Farm workers typically do not know when or what pesticides have been applied to fields, so they must rely on their employers to protect them from hazardous exposure. Because some employers might not follow WPS regulations, funds should be assigned to develop pesticide formulations that contain specific odors or dyes that would provide farm workers with direct information on the presence of hazardous pesticide residues.
PUBLIC-SECTOR ROLE IN EDUCATION
It is clear from the committee's study that the general public has a critical function in determining the future role of pesticides in US agriculture. Consumer interest in food and other goods perceived as safe and healthy fuels the rapid growth of the organic-food market; at the same time, consumer use of pesticides in the home and on the lawn continues to grow. Many of the paradoxical decisions made by the voting and consuming public arise from a relatively poor grasp of the science behind crop protection.
The public sector has a responsibility to provide education and information. Because knowledge also has public-good properties, a major responsibility of the public sector is to provide basic knowledge and information for decision-makers, in both the public and private sectors Education in scientific and technical fields is designed to meet anticipated demands in the private and public sectors. As long as there is a demand for pesticide-based solutions to pest-control problems, the education system has to train people to work in this field and to provide independent pesticide expertise in the public sector. Because we agree that pest-control choices have to be determined in the context of a perspective that incorporates biophysical, ecological, and economic considerations, education should emphasis basic principles and knowledge that will lead to informed decisions.
The broad set of considerations associated with pest-control decisions requires more interdisciplinary education in land-grant universities. People trained in life sciences and agriculture should also have a strong