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From October 1, 2001

USDA and EPA Neglect Pledge to Cut Pesticide Use

The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently concluded that two key federal agencies should be doing a better job of encouraging farmers to reduce pesticide use. The GAO found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not followed through on their 1993 pledge to reduce pesticides through integrated pest management (IPM) programs. The full article about this study can be found on U.S. Newswire's website.

The GAO report states that despite the USDA and EPA's 1993 pledge, the amount of pesticides used since then has increased. This watchdog agency also found that although use of the most dangerous pesticides has decreased, they still account for more than 40 percent of all pesticides used today. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) requested the report last year after learning that pesticide use in the United States rose by nearly 40 million pounds since 1992. Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and an advocate of reducing national and global pesticide use.

IPM uses nonchemical pest management practices, such as protecting beneficial organisms and planting pest-resistant crop varieties, along with pesticides. Farmers find that IPM produces high-quality crops while reducing the use of chemicals. Even pesticide producers are interested in IPM because of the increasing resistance of pest species to pesticide applications. In the U.S. Newswire article, Leahy stated, "This report makes it clear that pesticide-reducing programs work, and that they need to be a higher priority to help farmers save money, protect the environment and continue producing the highest quality foods for our citizens and children."

The report is entitled "Management Improvements Needed to Further Promote Integrated Pest Management" and is available on GAO's website at www.gao.gov. Copies are also available from Leahy's office by contacting Blythe McCormack at (202) 224-2398. For more information on IPM, please contact Beyond Pesticides at (202) 543-5450.