Wine Grapes & Pesticides in Sonoma

The other day I was reading “Lack of Sex Among Grapes Tangles a Family Vine” in the New York Times and came across the line “…a host of pests have caught up with the grape, obliging growers to protect their vines with a deluge of insecticides, fungicides and other powerful chemicals.”

The line was a throwaway, with no supporting evidence. But this is received wisdom, right? Doesn’t everyone know that modern commercial agriculture can’t exist unless growers use an ocean of dangerous environmental toxins?

Well, not at our vineyard. As I have said before, we farm in a manner that “…I would have no fears of my kids running around on site, getting dirty and putting things in their mouths.” Most of the growers I know in this business do as well. So why is the idea that we are drowning our grapes in pesticides so pervasive? Where is the evidence?

Data Sources

I spent time last night (in one of my frequent bouts of insomnia) looking for the evidence. First I decided to simplify things and focus just on data for Sonoma County. Sonoma has vineyard operations large and small, industrial and artisanal, high-dollar and low-rent, hidebound and cutting edge. I make the explicit assumption that pesticide use trends in Sonoma are fairly representative of trends in the wider industry.

Second, I went to primary data sources. For Sonoma wine grape acreage I went to the “California Grape Acreage Report: 2009 Crop” published by the NASS. For the amounts of pesticides used in Sonoma I went to the site for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to find the annual Pesticide Use Report. I pulled data from the Sonoma County Summary Report for wine grapes, for each vintage from 2001 through 2009.

In the CDPR reports, every material — or any aggregate of materials — is listed in a single line with the total pounds of active ingredient (AI) applied in the year, the total number of applications of that AI and the sum total of acres treated. If an acre is treated more than once with the same material it is summed into the total more than once. In 2009 while there were actually 57,150 acres of wine grapes in Sonoma, a total of 1,995,710 pounds of registered materials were applied to a total of 726,475 treated acres in 40,653 separately listed “applications.”

I guess this means that each acre of wine grapes in Sonoma received an average of 2.75 pounds per acre of registered materials in the year, or on average 49.09 pounds of registered material per application. I’m not trained as a Pest Control Adviser but it seems to me that neither number is “correct” nor conveys much useful information. More interesting numbers can be arrived at by simply dividing the total material applied by the actual number of wine grape acres to give 34.92 lb/ac, or by dividing the number of treated acres by the actual acres which gives 12.7 treatments per acre — which is around the number of applications of sulfur one might expect to apply to a vineyard in the course of a season to prevent powdery mildew.

Which leads to the next caveat in the CDPR data: not all registered and reported materials are pesticides (or fungicides, nematicides, herbicides, or -cides of any sort) — not all are even considered be “toxic.” In 2009 the top 5 registered AIs by total number of wine grape acres treated in Sonoma were: sulfur (by a wide margin) followed by three components of adjuvant sticker/spreaders used in applying sprays of other AIs (these adjuvants are on EPA List 4 “Inert Ingredients”), and glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup™). With the exception of glyphosate, the others are approved for organic viticulture. It is important to recognize that the materials required to be reported to CDPR are not all equally vile.

I refuse to accept that controlling powdery mildew with sulfur and surfactants that are registered for organic viticulture — and are widely considered to have low toxicity, don’t cause cancer, reproductive or developmental problems, or endocrine disruption, and have little or no environmental persistence — amounts to “…a deluge of insecticides, fungicides and other powerful chemicals.” So I turned to the Pesticide Action Network to help me determine which “powerful chemicals” are of real concern. PAN maintains a comprehensive pesticide database, and has worked with Californians for Pesticide Reform to identify a set of “most toxic” pesticides — their “Bad Actors.”

Toxic Materials — The Bad Actors

PAN’s “Bad Actors” are known or suspected acute toxins, carcinogens, cholinesterase inhibitors, ground water contaminants, reproductive or developmental toxins, and/or endocrine disruptors (I can find no pesticide that fits ALL of these categories). I pulled a list of “Bad Actors” from PAN’s list of the top 50 pesticides used on California wine grapes in 2008, and then tracked the cumulative use of twelve listed compounds in Sonoma from 2001 through 2009.

I did some research on each of the “Bad Actor” AIs I followed, and was unable to find unqualified independent support for the inclusion of all compounds on the list. Of them all, I decided to omit data on “mineral oils,” because the only place I could find them characterized as carcinogenic was on the PAN list. Mineral oils are approved for organic viticulture, considered inert by the EPA and even listed as GRAS by the FDA. The sole reason I can fathom for their “Bad Actor” listing as a carcinogen is that they are derived from petroleum distillates, and petroleum distillates require a Prop 65 warning. I discovered a PAN update referring to mineral oils that states: “The inclusion of these compounds is misleading, since only a small fraction of the components of these oils are carcinogenic…” compared to other AIs where 100% of the material is toxic or carcinogenic.

The Result

I added up the pounds used of the eleven “Bad Actors” and divided by the actual vine acres in Sonoma for each year studied to see if we actually are drowning our vines in toxic chemicals — contrary to my experience and expectation. Enough beating around the bush; here’s the money shot:

Sonoma Pesticide Use 2001 - 2009

Of the 34.92 pound average application of AIs per real acre in Sonoma in 2009, just 1.53 pounds, or 4%, were “Bad Actors.” And though the number of wine grape acres in Sonoma increased by 21% from 2001 to 2009, the rate of use of the “Bad Actors” has decreased by two-thirds over the same period. The trendline suggests that at the current rate of decrease, the use of the “Bad Actors” on the list at this time will effectively reach zero in 2014.

A pound and a half per acre (and decreasing) does not strike me as a deluge, but the situation is even better than this graph suggests. The worst actor on the PAN list is 1,3-dichloropropene, which some growers use as a pre-planting soil fumigant. Although it never gets on or into the grapes themselves, the material is universally recognized as a carcinogen with high acute toxicity and the potential for groundwater contamination. In 2009, 1,3-dichloropropene represented a whopping 70,049 pounds of the 87,408 pounds of “Bad Actors” reported County-wide, and was applied to just 211 of the total 726,475 treated acres in Sonoma. Backing 1,3-dichloropropene out of the data leaves 17,359 pounds of toxic chemicals applied to Sonoma vineyards, or just 0.30 pounds per acre.

Conclusion — No Pesticide Flood

I humbly submit that the idea that wine grapes are being drowned in powerful chemicals is factually incorrect and absurdly hyperbolic. As the Gray Lady puts itself forth as the anchor medium in “the reality-based community” we should expect the reporters and editors at the New York Times to engage more in fact and less in sensationalism.

The question of how vineyard pesticide use is portrayed is a small part of my concerns over the the Times article. In a future post I may deconstruct the central thesis and rebuild it as it should have been done from the first.

If anyone is interested in the abstracted data and calculations, click here to open the spreadsheet.

27 thoughts on “Wine Grapes & Pesticides in Sonoma

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  2. Thomson Vineyards

    Well researched and written we agree that the majority of Farmers in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys are using chemicals sparingly only with the intent of shepherding a crop from bud break, through verasion, and onward to harvest with the most minimal amount of impact possible.

    Farmers are under extreme scrutiny filing spray reports monthly and if you are up late night with a bout of insomnia and misplace the decimal related to rate of application and amount applied the Napa County Ag Commissioner’s biologists will call you!

    What concerns us long time Farmers is the additional spray applications related to pests like EGVM, the costs associated with those applications and the time spent spraying not our usual 4-6 sulphur applications annually but 3 more on top of that! There was a lot of grumbling from the Carneros Farmers – seemingly a bunch of holus bolus from The Man driving spray material costs up even further, putting farmers in the tractor seats for that many more hours, and “controlling” this mythical “pest” no one can see with the human eye…

    “Ecosystem Friendly Farmed” anyone?

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Yeah I’m down with “Ecosystem-Friendly” farming. On average we do 7-8 sulfur apps (vintages like 2010 drive that up) and because I know I am going to be harvesting Grenache and Counoise in November we usually do one app of Flint™ or something like it before cluster closure. I’ve posted before on EVGM — we have an action plan in place but have not been required to spray. Thankfully we have not trapped anything.

      That sucks about costs going up – I can hear the supplier now: “well with all the extra spraying going on which nobody could have anticipated there are shortages and so I’m having to buy from the more expensive guys blah blah blah lie lie lie.” That’s another thing non-farmers complaining about “agriculture using too much pesticide” don’t get — we have a strong financial incentive to do only what is absolutely necessary.

      But really we need to push back against the overly-simplistic and sensational portrayal of farming in the media. Media types see a number like “2 million pounds of PESTICIDES applied to Sonoma wine grapes” and they say “oooh that’s a big number! sure to get our readers emotions riled! Let’s report that!” Asshats.

  3. Tyler Thomas

    John –

    Another terrific post: reasoned, fair, and well written. Thanks for compiling the data…I only wish wine journalism went through such rigor before publishing their “impressions.” I guess there are too many of us experts (read winemakers) with credibility but non-credible data that we pass along to a writer who then feels they’ve done their homework.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Tyler I don’t want to play one agricultural pursuit off against another, so I’m not keen to make that comparison. But in truth I have looked deeply into the environmental impacts of a wide range of land uses, and wine viticulture does present a much smaller footprint per acre than many other ag uses (especially in terms of overall water use and runoff contamination).

      Lost in the discussion is that the impact of ag overall pales in comparison to the impact of population growth and its attendant development. Is the agenda behind the demonization of agriculture a desire to drive down land costs for developers?

      My sole agenda here is to try to shame the media into doing their homework, and to dissuade them with real data from pushing narratives whose only goal is to push readers’ emotional buttons. Pass me my lance, Sancho!

  4. Ian Edmondstone

    A lot of wine makers have gone to great lengths to ensure a minimum level of pesticides as part of their dedication to their wines.

    In contrast, you may want to have a look at the Pesticide Action Network in EU, which in 2008 found 34 bottles (non organic) sampled from a range of countries had on average 240 times the recommend safe limit of pesticides than that allowed for water. For all wines sampled, not one wine would be considered fit for human consumption under the FDA rules. I think of more concern were the number of pesticides used, some of which are known carcinogens. The full PAN report is here

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Uh huh. Wow, what an inflammatory and reactionary press release your link takes me to! There is no primary data, no list of the pesticides found or their residual levels, no analysis of the actual risk presented to health, no presentation of the credentials of the analytical laboratory.

      It is an agenda-driven blurb with no supporting evidence – another example of abdication of responsibility for the content of reportage in the popular media – the very thing I am railing against here. Plus it is from 2008, meaning the analyses were likely performed in 2007 at the latest, on wines that were most probably produced in 2006 or earlier. As I show rather conclusively above, the general trend in pesticide use is downward – so to presume that the wines being produced today would yield that same results outlined in the wholly inadequate press release is logically unsound.

      In case I have not made it clear, I have no patience with “the sky is falling” worldview.

  5. But wait...

    But wait…

    For this to analysis to be well balanced, you should be doing bottoms up and not top down analysis.

    Go to Safeway et al. and purchase a large sample of Napa & Sonoma wines. Send them to two different labs for analysis. Analyze the results and ONLY then try to back in these usage and consumption numbers.

    I agree with Pam RE the central valley. Without question they dose heavily there. In fact, I’d bet analysis from the CV would be improperly viewed and paint all of Californias wine industry with a toxic brush. I’d fear the test results of anything Bronco…

    I drink and love wine. That said, my industry (hedge fund) will eviscerate this industry if professional scientific entities without an agenda come back with toxic results. That is an absolute fact. Kudos to you and your vineyard practices John. If I were you, I’d make it a movement (religion) to clean up the valley. There, it’s said.

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      We’ve got enough religion already in this industry–c.f. biodynamics 😉 –I’m just practicing environmental awareness and responsibility, while steering clear of dogma and ideologic posturing. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

      That said–in comments above you can see a couple of farmers (Jennifer and I) bemoan the dollar costs of using chemicals, as well as the environmental costs. You can bet these same market forces are driving the Central Valley growers to reduce usage to–perhaps–an even greater degree than for those of us for whom is is already a last resort.

      Also you can bet that the PR departments of the industrial wineries are working overtime to manage public perception of chemical use on Central Valley wine grapes–and as you imply, if PR is not backed up by real change on the ground then someone is going to have a media shitstorm on their hands sooner or later. Investors hate that, don’t they? So while artisanal winegrowers may be leading the pack in reducing chemical use in the vineyard, you can bet that the big guys are following as closely as they can.

      RE: top-down vs. bottoms-up analysis–what? As I have made clear throughout this thread, my agenda here is ONLY to call out the Times for making a hyperbolic statement not supported by the facts. I pulled those facts from a direct source: the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, which publishes RAW DATA. The numbers are real, and I have been transparent about my analysis. IMO it doesn’t get more “balanced” than that.

      I have no desire (or need) to buy bottles from Safeway and pay to have them analyzed for toxic residue. But if you are looking for analytical evidence on chemical use in Central Valley vineyards, it can be found in the government labs of our neighbor to the north. The lab associated with the LCBO routinely does analyses for toxics on wines imported from California, and rejects importation of any that don’t meet the strict Canadian guidelines. Nevertheless you can find industrially-produced Central Valley wines in Ontario liquor stores. Um… QED (sort of).

      Finally, why would the financial industry want to “eviscerate” the wine industry? Out of a sense of social responsibility and a desire for environmental justice? Really? Then I can suggest that there are much bigger, much worse offenders out there. Take down one of them and watch how quickly the rest of the agriculture sector falls in line. Please!

  6. But wait...


    Let me preface by saying that I’m not a farmer nor am I a producer. That said, my better half is in the wine industry and I know the industry well. I know many people in the industry and in fact, we are getting set to head to Vin Expo in Bordeaux in the next couple of weeks. We are locals.

    I’ll present my position from the consumer first.

    1. Consumers no longer trust science. Even the best analytical position based on disparate numbers won’t be trusted because it’s not easy for the consumer to understand. This problem is constantly presented via situations like Fukushima.

    2. The only thing consumers care about is there or is there not chemicals in my wine? Even when presented as ” yes but it’s in PPM” consumers don’t care. All they heard was “there is chemicals and pesticides in my wine”

    This is why suggested being proactive with the Safeway testing scheme.

    3. The fact that it costs more to use pesticides is a canard. The public has no interest or concern in farming costs. See item 1 & 2.

    4. The wine industry has spent a lot of time and effort trying to position wine as being being beneficial to your health. Resveratrol and other beneficial compounds are explained well to the demographic/psychographic of the average Whole Foods customer. These people will recoil with extreme prejudice if they think there is ANY pesticides and chemicals are in their wine. Furthermore, they will feel betrayed and “played” by the wine industry marketing machine. This of course will cause the wallet and purses to slam shut. This is a very conscious customer. They also tend to be users of social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. The viral damage opportunity is obvious.

    5. Hedge funds. Make no mistake, there are plenty in my industry that care nothing about wine, drinking wine, growing grapes etc. Nothing. But if they see an opportunity in decreased sales due to “headline risk” out come the knives and they will pounce. And ya know what? If there are chemicals and pesticides (in any amounts) I will certainly not slight my colleagues. I could give you strategies that would make you sleep with your eyes open…

    Regarding other crops and abusers, yes that’s true, but if I’m a collector of wine, a lover of the lifestyle etc, then that’s what gets focused on. Cucumbers won’t cause the same psychology.

    6. It’s entirely anecdotal on my part. But I’ve heard of entire vintages bottled from Chile that had to be destroyed due to excessive pesticide contamination. And what about the stories that ground water on the valley floor is probably not something to drink due to contamination? And what about the Destruction of habitat in the Napa River due to run off containing pesticides and other hazardous effluent? None of that would square with ” there is no facts in the pesticide story” But I may be wrong on this stuff, but again, make no mistake the buying public will look at the industry with a very harsh eye if even remotely true. It’s what people do…

    Sorry the iPad doesn’t post well because the text box is fixed. This may be jumbled up.

    In conclusion, I personally believe that the industry really needs to get out in front of this.


    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      TWIC – I also believe “the industry” needs to get in front of this but I have railed before on the view that the industry is monolithic–it is a mistake to tar us all with the same brush. I already am out in front of it, as are many in my cohort.

      I’m not going to get too spun up over the “[c]onsumers no longer trust science.” comment. Ok, I will–a little. Let’s be clear–most consumers are too poorly educated to even judge the quality of any particular application of science. There, I said it. If you think it’s condescending, you bet it is. This is exactly what I have been pushing back against in this whole piece. Noting pisses me off more than this–somebody without any background reads some bullshit in the Times–or sees it on Fox, or on the internet–they accept it at face value, and suddenly they are an expert. It’s pervasive, and it’s screwing up all our lives.

      The problem is not “science” per se, it is the unqualified misapprehension, deliberate misappropriation, or unconscionable obfuscation of science (or worse, creation of pseudo-science) to further some policy agenda or to feed the bottom line. Consumers are fed mis-information, and in my experience most are incapable of distinguishing truth from fiction.

      The last thing I will say about this is that science in the service of the bottom line is not science at all–it is politics and marketing. OK, I’m done.

      RE: “[t]he public has no interest or concern in farming costs.” – I respectfully disagree. They absolutely DO care how much the finished product costs, so they do care how much it costs to farm whether they are aware of it or not.

      RE: “I could give you strategies that would make you sleep with your eyes open…” – What makes you think my eyes ever close? 😉

      RE: your point 6) would you grant that the fact that some wines are pulled from the shelves might suggest that “the system is working” at some level? Would you acknowledge that the potential for post hoc demonstration of measurable pesticide residue is a HUGE market dis-incentive for growers and wineries to be cavalier in their use of registered toxic materials? Will you acknowledge that the contamination of groundwater and the destruction of habitat observed today is the cumulative effect of past practices that are no longer allowed under current regulation, and that future regulation will work hand in hand with market dis-incentives to further reduce the use of toxic materials (and encourage the development of “safer” alternatives)?

      Here’s where I end this: I have made a conscious choice NOT to live my life in ignorance and fear. My educational and professional background have allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the relative risks of the things in my environment that threaten me and my family. I expect to be lied to by politicians and marketers–it’s all part of the game, isn’t it?– and so it doesn’t faze me when I catch them at it. And I do catch them at it, all the time. I believe it is my duty as a responsible citizen to call them on it publicly when I do–such as when some element of the marketing machine at the Times tries to scare people with “winegrapes are drowned in a sea of pesticide.”

  7. But wait...

    Ok. I appreciate your position. Since you are on the front lines of everything wine industry, whenever you are talking with growers, fellow winemakers etc, please mention that this issue should be taken seriously. I suspect that you already do.

    You aren’t the problem. You and your I’ll are the solution. It’s the producers with bottom lines before quality. Let’s agree that they exist. You can name some. I can name some. They aren’t incented by anything other than profit. These guys if left unchecked will destroy the credibility of Napa Sonoma or perhaps the entire industry.

    Anyhow, as I said, kudos to your approach to vineyard management. Keep the faith brother…

  8. Pam S

    I do have a question for you – when I use the Dept. of Pesticide Reg. mapping tool (from the Dept. of Public Health) I see there is someone in Sonoma who seems to be using a lot of 1, 3 DICHLOROPROPENE

    You can also see this here

    This is not even on the top 5 pesticides list for Napa or Mendocino wine grapes.

    Just wondering who in Sonoma County is using this so much (it IS a Bad Actor) and why?

    1. John M. Kelly Post author

      Hi Pam – I saw the same thing. 1,3-dichloropropene is a pre-planting fumigant. It superseded methyl bromide and is designed to kill everything in the soil. It’s ugly. I don’t know who is using it. Someone really old-school, as most of us who have been doing new plantings in the last decade recognize that the native soil flora are a good thing.

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    1. John Kelly

      No, Ivy – I have not. My comment that the trendline would suggest that we will be at zero application of bad actors by 2014 was deliberately rhetorical. First, it will be 2016 before the 2014 pesticide use numbers will be available. In that time, the goalposts will have moved, and AIs that are currently not considered bad actors may be moved onto that list. And finally, it is unrealistic to posit that agriculture as a whole will EVER get to an absolute zero use of materials that someone somewhere considers to be destructive to the environment. But I absolutely will continue to monitor this — but probably not until after harvest.

  10. jonah

    Hello, You said that you ” pulled a list of “Bad Actors” from PAN’s list of the top 50 pesticides used on California wine grapes in 2008″

    could you share this list?

    I am considering renting a mobile home in very close proximity to 17 acres of vineyard. I was hoping to have a medicinal garden. I have not yet been able to obtain any detailed information about what is sprayed but i would help me to have more information about what to most concerned about.
    I would very much appreciate any thoughts that people have about how to figure out if this is a safe place for me to live. Outside cloverdale.

    1. John Kelly

      There’s an intimidating bunch of questions bundled up here – that I am not willing to answer on the record as this is not my area of expertise. That said, for myself I would tend to not be concerned unless I was on water from a shallow well, and so long as someone wasn’t planting new vineyard next to me. If you see bare ground smoothed, covered with plastic and injected with a gas from a tank on the back of a tractor, be concerned. Otherwise, even the worst actors listed today have low environmental persistence. You should be fine so long as you can avoid acute exposures.

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    1. John Kelly

      Yes, I wrote this post in January of 2011. I have confidence in the numbers I used, current through 2009, obtained from public records on California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation website. I provided links to that data, as well as to Pesticide Action Network’s “Bad Actors” – and at the end of the post there is a link to the spreadsheet I created listing exactly what I tracked and why.

      The article you linked to is simply a report on glyphosate use in Sonoma County, in the context of the recent IARC/WHO report listing the main ingredient of Roundup™ as a “probable human carcinogen.” This report on the findings of a longitudinal study — containing no new data — have been widely criticized by scientists and epidemiologists with no ties to Monsanto.

      I have no respect for the legal team at Monsanto, but I find much of the criticism leveled at the company to be uninformed and hyperbolic. While I applaud the convictions of people who choose to control weeds by other means, I believe calls to ban the use of glyphosate on the basis of this flawed report are premature.

      Glyphosate has been in use for 45 years. If it were truly a bette noir, by now there should be a wave of cancers showing up in the population related to its presence. The data don’t appear to support this. The compound is classed as an irritant. It would not surprise me that agricultural workers receiving acute exposures over long careers might develop cancer from a non-specific chronic inflammatory response. Recent reports have confirmed 15 years of study linking inflammation to development of cancer.

  12. Al

    So after all this technical discussion ~der bottom line~ Is there any health danger from pesticides in living around vineyards in Sonoma or Napa?

    1. John Kelly

      Answering like a scientist here: it’s impossible to say there is no danger, because one can’t prove a negative. I assert that most established vineyards use the barest minimum of pesticides, but there is always a chance of some accidental acute exposure — mostly for the vineyard workers. I’ve seen published studies that suggest families living next to industrial vineyards in California’s Central Valley have a statistical cluster of poor health outcomes, but correlation doesn’t equal causation and the slightly higher incidence of disease states in this population could be causally related to factors that have far more to do with poverty than with vineyard proximity. So I will give you two data points — both totally anecdotal: 1) my insurance when I owned a vineyard didn’t even have a minor codicil acknowledging the actuarial possibility of a payout for pesticide exposure claims by neighbors, and 2) If I could afford to buy a house next to a vineyard in Napa or Sonoma I would do so in a heartbeat, and I have two young kids I love with the fire of 10,000 suns.

  13. Heather

    Thanks for the article. Now it’s 2015, and I’m wondering if your prediction (based on earlier industry trends) of zero use of the big baddies by 2014 has come true? Have you done any follow up?

    1. John Kelly

      Heather I’ve honestly not had the time to do a complete follow-up. I started to look into the most recent PAN information and several things struck me: 1) some of the bad actors actors I tracked in the original post were no longer listed, as they have been phased out of use, 2) that there are new bad actors on the list — none of them as toxic or persistent as the older pesticides, which led to 3) PAN has changed how they evaluate agricultural chemicals for “bad actor” status.

      To their credit, you can find the rationales behind these changes without having to dig into the fine print, though the new site design makes finding the bad actor list itself a bit of a chore. On the other hand, some of the changes smack of “moving the goalposts” as I suggested was likely when I made my original conclusions. The existence of PAN is, after all, predicated on the conceit that all use of agricultural pesticides of any sort is ideologically unacceptable.

      At the same time, PAN narrowed down the bad actor list to remove active ingredients that carry Group 2A classification from the IARC — “possibly carcinogenic to humans” — as their only risk signifier. I applaud this move, as it hurts their credibility to say a pesticide is “dangerous” if it carries the same risk of causing cancer as coffee, shift work, etc.

      So to reiterate what I said in the post: the realities of commerce dictate that the use of agricultural chemicals will never go to zero, no matter what the graph trendline indicates. Farmers will always need to use pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and/or -cides of other sorts to stay in business.


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