Forty Percent Reduction in Crop Pesticide Use Accomplished
As we approach the winter equinox, here's some good news about the imported fruits and vegetables we'll buying during the snowy months that follow. The East African Standard (12/10/2005) reported that: "The agro-chemical industry is losing Sh3 billion annually to strict chemical use guidelines set by the European Union. Since the minimum chemical residue level was introduced in the horticultural sector three years ago, annual chemical sales have dropped from Sh7.5 billion to Sh4.5 billion...Under the current trade arrangements, horticultural exports to the EU must meet specific limits of post-harvest chemical levels, leading to low chemical use by most farmers". Admittedly a regional trend does not prove a global one, yet a sales reduction of that magnitude likely reflects something far broader. Although not likely corrected for year to year export variations, the pesticide sales metric is straightforward to obtain and cheaper to arrive at than making an estimate from tests of "market basket" samples of fruits and vegetables. Plus, there is less controversy about sampling and testing methods, statistics, or peer review of interpretations.
We suppose the AgChem industry has overlooked the growth of organic food sales in giving attribution only to the EU standards. Also overlooked: recent increases in energy prices has farmers looking for places to cut costs. Cutting pesticide use is one way to do that. Whatever the cause in total, TreeHugger welcomes every blemished and delicious orange East Africa has to offer.