For 18 years, government tests of food have identified those fruits, vegetables and food crops that have the highest pesticide residue -- but no more.
The Bush Administration has axed the USDA program, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The stated reason? Cost. Testing costs $8 million. Granted, the federal budget is the only context in which $8 million seems like chump change, but this amounts to a very modest slice of the $3+ trillion budget.
For that money, data was gathered that independent scientists used to develop alternative strategies for pesticide use and application that reduced pesticide residue on food. For that money, consumer groups published information for people who want to avoid any unhealthy effects that might result from eating food laced with poisons designed to kill the likes of bugs, fungus and weeds. For that money, other government agencies -- notably the Environmental Protection Agency -- were able to determine how much pesticide can safely be applied to avoid over-exposing people to potentially harmful chemicals in food.
Without the basic research and monitoring, those progressive steps would have been impossible.
The silver lining, if there is one, is that the USDA is maintaining its organic certification program, so shoppers can look for the USDA Organic label to avoid foods grown with chemical pesticides.
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