Pesticides are one tool of agriculture

I agree with a recent column in the Advocate that Canadian agriculture has an important role in feeding a lot of mouths, but unfortunately the column contained wrong information about the safety of the tools farmers rely on to help them grow their crops.

Re: How connected are you to your food?, Red Deer Advocate, March 21.

I agree with a recent column in the Advocate that Canadian agriculture has an important role in feeding a lot of mouths, but unfortunately the column contained wrong information about the safety of the tools farmers rely on to help them grow their crops.

Canadians have access to one of the safest food supplies in the world and I’d like to provide readers with information about how the foods they find at the grocery store are regulated.

Farmers practise integrated pest management (IPM), which means using the right tool to deal with a pest problem at the right time.

Sometimes the tool required is a pesticide. In instances where trace amounts of pesticides are found on food, it is usually in the range of parts per million or less — much, much too low to have any impact whatsoever on consumers.

Recent data from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shows that about 88 per cent of all fresh food items and 90 per cent of processed food items show no traces of pesticides at all.

However, even in those instances where minute residue traces are detected, it’s important for consumers to understand that pesticides receive a greater breadth of scrutiny than any other regulated product in Canada. Health Canada, which is one of the most respected regulatory agencies in the world, undertakes a thorough scientific review and risk assessment of every pesticide before registering it for use to ensure it does not pose a health risk to farmers using the products or to families at the dinner table.

Pesticides are important tools that help farmers provide Canadians with access to an affordable supply of safe and healthy foods, like the fruits, vegetables and whole grains we need to stay healthy.

Lorne Hepworth

President, CropLife Canada

representing the plant science industry

Ottawa

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