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Ag chemical update

Traits garner the crop
headlines these days – with less attention being paid to agricultural

Still, there’s lots going on
with the ag chemical side. CropLife America (
represents major manufacturers, formulators, and distributors of
crop-protection and pest-control products.

Here are some of the
crop-protection issues CropLife America is currently monitoring.

Chinese Pesticide Quality

China is a hotbed of
agricultural chemical activity, with around 600 independent firms that have the
capacity to synthesize pesticide molecules. China has world-class manufacturing
facilities and joint ventures with some members of major U.S. chemical
manufacturers, says Jay Vroom, CropLife America president.

However, Vroom notes that
there have been instances where some products from some Chinese companies
didn’t meet U.S. specification or quality standards. 

“We are talking with EPA
about how we can pay more attention to this from a regulatory standpoint,” says
Vroom. “We don’t want to create a crisis of confidence within EPA. But our
responsibility is to work with others in the industry to have a higher level of
resources devoted to this. We need people to visit those plant sites on the

Special Atrazine Review

CropLife America is
monitoring the special review of atrazine and other triazine herbicides by EPA.
The majority of scientific analysis is overwhelmingly in favor of atrazine’s
continued use, says Vroom. 

However, there’s a chance
atrazine could be lost, says Vroom. “Farmers and their farm organizations need
to take this seriously and be active,” he says.

Local Foods Movement

Some in agriculture tend to
suspiciously view the local foods movement and farmers markets. However, Vroom
views it more as an opportunity to communicate with consumers.

“Most organic producers use
organic crop-production products, some of which are supplied by our members,”
he says.

Same Meaning, Different

Pesticides or
crop-production products? Sure, they’re the same thing, but words differ to

CropLife America officials
cite 2009 public opinion polls showing the general public’s reaction to the word
pesticide is 60% negative. Meanwhile, the general public’s reaction to the term
crop protection is 60% positive. Polls also show pesticides are not a major
concern that U.S. consumers have regarding food and agriculture.

Research surveys show that
of the top 10 concerns the public has regarding agricultural and food issues,
pesticide concerns rank much closer to 10 than 1, says Bill Kuckuck, executive
vice president/chief operating office of CropLife America.

Still, boosting
agriculture’s image to the public is continually on the mind of CropLife
America executives.

“We have to talk more
clearly to consumers,” says Barb Glenn, vice president of science and
regulatory affairs for CropLife America.

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