EPA’s New Pesticide Incident Database, Jalapenogate & More
EPA Launches Pesticide Incident Database
The Environmental Protection Agency recently launched an online database of pesticide incidents reported to the agency over the last 10 years. The Agency stated that the publication of the database was “a major step to increase transparency” and intended to provide the public and community organizations with access to data regarding pesticide exposures. The database allows the public to search two data sets: (i) individual incidents submitted to the Agency with a description of the incident, and (ii) incidents submitted in aggregate. EPA cautioned that “the data sets contain raw data that have never been reviewed for their validity or modified to facilitate public review” and therefore it could not attest to the accuracy or completeness of the data. You can read more from the EPA about the new database here.
A large portion of jalapeno seeds sold and distributed across the U.S. this year have been mislabeled, leaving nurseries and gardeners from coast to coast with plants that are producing banana peppers or other mystery peppers instead of jalapenos. The problem has been so widespread that it has become known nationally as “Jalapenogate.” According to an article in Morning AgClips, tracking down the source of the problem was a challenge in and of itself because the seeds are typically sold through multiple brokers and often repackaged into smaller lots as it travels through the supply chain. Vegetable seed is apparently also dominated by a handful of large companies and distributors which import seed from all over the world.
In theory, the ability to track and trace the origins of seed lots should be doable since federal and state seed laws require all seed distributors to maintain records demonstrating origin, shipping & receiving, processing, and sales.
Artificial Alcohol Delivers Buzz Without the Buffoonery
The universe of synthesized and imitation food has added alcohol to the growing list of alternative food products that aim to be a better version of the real thing, or at least produced in better way. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on efforts to develop a synthetic alcohol that will provide the pleasurable effects without the downsides of poor motor control and hangovers. GABA Labs is working on a substance based on gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid that targets receptors in the front of the brain but does not contain the other neurotransmitters in alcohol that trigger undesirable effects. The synthetic alcohol could be added to non-alcoholic versions of beer and wine to create an arguably healthier version of the traditional product.
The concept of artificial alcohol joining the ranks of cell-cultured and imitation meats, alternative milks, and butterless butters suggests there is no limit to creating a new food to replace an old one.
Proposed Ag Labeling Bill a Bad Bet for Agriculture
We’re continuing our call to the Ag community to oppose the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288) to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) introduced by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD). This Bill will immunize pesticide manufacturers from liability for problems or damages caused by their products. This misguided Bill ignores the fact that EPA does not review product performance data for virtually all pesticides, and has not reviewed such data for decades. A copy of the Bill is available here.
With the Farm Bill coming up for negotiation in the coming months, it would not be surprising to see Rep. Johnson’s Bill slipped into the text of the massive Farm Bill legislation for covert passage. This would be a blow to the farm community.