Cooperative Extension Service
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Your source for pest management and pesticide news

November 2004/Volume 27, No. 11

From the don’t-try-this-at-home department: Some cotton farmers in India are mixing pesticides with soft drinks in an attempt to improve pesticide efficacy
Regulatory activities in Maine and California could foreshadow events for the rest of the country
California has a new law that dictates immediate medical treatment and timely payment for individuals injured by the improper application of agricultural pesticides
Undoubtedly, the market for organic foods is growing rapidly, but there is a story behind the story

NEWS YOU CAN USE

The UGA Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgia Department of Agriculture are sponsoring another Georgia Clean Day pesticide collection at the Farmers’ Market in Albany, Ga.
You should check out the EPA National Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center
Retailers, December 31, 2004, is the last day to legally sell diazinon products labeled all outdoor non-agricultural uses.

FQPA AND REREGISTRATION

The EPA extended the comment period for the Rodenticide Revised Comparative Ecological Risk Assessment

FEDERAL NEWS

The presence of soybean rust in the United States has been confirmed

BIOTECHNOLOGY

Accordingto a German study, genetically modified (GM) corn can be planted 20 meters away from conventional corn with minimal cross pollination
Scientists in Illinois reported that they found no trace of foreign gene in the flesh or blood of piglets fed genetically modified corn
According to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, widespread adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops has produced substantial economic and environmental benefits


From the don’t-try-this-at-home department: Some cotton farmers in India are mixing pesticides with soft drinks in an attempt to improve pesticide efficacy. One farmer reported, "We found that all the colas had uniform effect on pests. The pests became numb and fell to ground," he said. He said the drinks had all the elements they needed: they were cheaper, sticky, fizzy, and attracted ants, which devoured the larvae of the pests. I am not sure why “fizzy” is an important quality for pesticide diluent.

The Regional AgriResearch station said that their research did not show that adding cola to pesticide improved pest control. The Pepsi and Coca-Cola companies added that there was "no scientific basis" for this practice. However, soft drink sales in the area increased dramatically.

This pest control fad may be related to a report earlier in the year that alleged that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo beverages contained pesticides.

Regulatory activities in Maine and California could foreshadow events for the rest of the country. In Maine, activists threatened to file suit against the state’s largest blueberry grower (8 feet tall, weighed more than 500 pounds). The activist groups alleged that the grower violated the Clean Water Act when aerially applied pesticide drifted onto nearby surface water. Under the Clean Water Act, a permit is required to pollute navigable waters from a point source. The activists contended that a plane applying pesticides constituted a point source.

The other side could argue that pesticides are not pollutants as defined by the Clean Water Act. The Act defines a pollutant as a chemical waste; pesticides have a definite useful purpose. However, one might point out that pesticide drift is waste because it has no useful purpose. There has also been some contention about whether pesticide drift is a point source release into water.

The farm agreed to abandon all aerial application of pesticides before the suit was filed. The activist groups have not decided how, or if, to proceed. (Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, 8-16-04 via Chemically Speaking, 9-04 and Environment Maine, 10-4-04 http://environmentmaine.org/envmaine.asp?id2=14481

This victory for the activists is probably a sign of things to come. Obviously, they recognize the value of the Clean Water Act in the battle against pesticides. There are two sides to this issue. Some people will deride the activists’ actions as an unwarranted attack against agriculture, mother, and blueberry pie. However, Maine regulators detected phosmet and chlorothalonil in the rivers near the farm after the grower applied these pesticides by air. I would agree with many other people that it is unfair for the grower to get the additional profit by using pesticides on the blueberries while all of us have to bear the costs of the pesticides contaminating the water.

California has a new law that dictates immediate medical treatment and timely payment for individuals injured by the improper application of agricultural pesticides. The financial burden falls on the businesses judged to have caused the harm. Under the law, a violator of pesticide laws must reimburse the medical costs of individuals who suffer acute injuries and illness caused by the pesticide use violations.

Farm worker advocates and pesticide activists are applauding the new law. The California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the sponsor of this bill, states that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are affected annually by pesticide exposures. Illnesses and ailments include rashes, vomiting, irritation of the eyes, fainting, and respiratory problems.

Agricultural groups fear that the law will make liability insurance unavailable or unaffordable. The governor’s office agrees that the current form of the law may cause problems with insurance, and they foresee that additional regulatory language will be necessary to fine-tune the new law. (The New Farm, 10-4-04 http://www.newfarm.org/news/1004/1007/ca_pest_law.shtml )

If insurance premiums and medical claims drive up grower costs, the price of food will probably increase as well. Consumers will complain, but it seems unfair for us to pay lower food costs because someone else may be injured by pesticides.

The Maine and California cases are examples of how pesticide use and attitudes are changing. For many years, no one paid much attention to what went on “way out in the country,” and pesticide use and misuse were mostly ignored. Those days are passing. I am not sure I can find my way out to the country without driving through several dozen new housing developments. Additionally, more and more people are scrutinizing how and where we use pesticides. Pesticide applicators must be better trained and more knowledgeable than ever before. Think about the people who apply pesticides for you. Would you mind if everyone knew exactly what they do? It may be time for you to do some more training.

Undoubtedly, the market for organic foods is growing rapidly, but there is a story behind the story. According to a report by Packaged Facts, the organic market is growing eight times faster than the market for conventional foods. However, a big part of the explanation is that the organic food market is about 1 percent of the overall U.S. food market, meaning that the market for conventional foods is the other 99 percent. It is not difficult to understand why the organic market is growing faster. Even with its relatively small market share, the organic market is worth billions of dollars.

Is organic food really better? Many people believe what they like in spite of a lack of conclusive evidence. Here are some comments from experts on both sides of the issue.

"There is no reason to believe that organic produce is any safer — or less safe — than conventional," says Mike Doyle, Ph.D., director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia .

The Los Angeles Times (9-6-04) But as organic products — and their claims to superiority — have grown more common, scientists, policy analysts and some consumers have begun to ask for proof. Where's the evidence, they ask, for the widespread belief that organic foods are safer and more nutritious than those raised by conventional farming methods?

The short answer, food safety and nutrition scientists say, is that such proof does not exist. Indeed, by one well-established measure of healthfulness — contamination with fecal matter and potentially harmful bacteria — some organic foods may pose greater risks to consumers.

Dr. Joseph D. Rosen, a Rutgers University food science professor on the cusp of retirement, is one of the organic food industry's newest pests. For years, Rosen said, he kept his head down, conducting and publishing narrow research on how to measure pesticide residues in food. But he was moved to begin speaking out in 2002, when Consumer Reports inveighed against proposals to irradiate meat — a measure Rosen believes could prevent more then 350 deaths per year due to food-borne illnesses.

Last month, at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in Philadelphia, Rosen presided over a daylong symposium that asked the question: Is organic food healthier than conventional food?

"There's certainly not sufficient science to prove that the claims of organic food advocates are true," he said.

In a study published in May in the Journal of Food Protection, University of Minnesota professor Francisco Diez-Gonzalez reported that in a comparison of organic and conventionally raised crops plucked directly from the fields, organic vegetables were more than five times likelier to show fecal contamination — an indicator that produce could harbor harmful pathogens — than were those grown conventionally.

Katherine DiMatteo, acting director of the Organic Center said many consumers had developed the belief that organic food is safer and healthier for reasons that are "nonscientific." When the public becomes agitated by some new "food scare" - over pesticides, mad cow disease, antibiotic resistance — they frequently learn that organic farmers have taken steps that avoid such pitfalls, she said. That, she noted, positions organic food in their minds as a safer and healthier alternative to conventionally grown foods, even when research is not there to support that presumption. "It's got a lot to do with these food scares," DiMatteo said.

Quoted from their web site, “The Organic Center for Education and Promotion has a singular mission to provide consumers, health care professionals, educators, public officials, and government agencies with credible, scientific information about the organic benefit.”

I am not saying that organic foods have no benefit over “conventional” foods. I am saying that there is not convincing scientific evidence to say that people should spend more of their budget to buy organic foods. The health tip of the day: buy a variety of fruits and vegetables your family will eat; jam five a day down their throat. Do not feel guilty that you do not buy “organic” foods.

News You Can Use

The UGA Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgia Department of Agriculture are sponsoring another Georgia Clean Day pesticide collection at the Farmers’ Market in Albany, Ga. Take this opportunity to dispose of any pesticides you do not want. Paints, oil, antifreeze, and other hazardous wastes will not be accepted. The program is free, but you need to preregister. For more information, contact Lenny Wells (229-436-7216) or Steve Cole (404-656-4958).

You should check out the EPA National Agriculture Compliance Assistance Center. It is a great place to find out about all kinds of environmental regulations that affect agriculture. Did you know, for example, that it is illegal to take a goat into a bedroom of a house that is occupied by two or more people? (OK, maybe not. It should be illegal.) Seriously, the web site offers information for animal producers, crops, nurseries, greenhouses, etc. In addition to regulatory information, this site will lead you to best management practices and other practical information.

Retailers, December 31, 2004, is the last day to legally sell diazinon products labeled all outdoor non-agricultural uses. Retailers have several options to dispose of their diazinon products affected by this announcement.

  1. Sell all of the products before January 1, 2005.
  2. Contact their pesticide distributor to buy back any unopened product before March 31, 2005.
  3. Dispose of left over product as hazardous wastes. The Georgia Clean Day program, sponsored by UGA Extension and the Georgia. Department of Agriculture can help.

End users are permitted to use diazinon products indefinitely. FOLLOW THE LABEL!

FQPA and Reregistration

The EPA extended the comment period for the Rodenticide Revised Comparative Ecological Risk Assessment. Comments are due January 21, 2005. If you are interested, start here http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-PEST/2004/September/Day-22/p21068.htm. For more information, contact Kelly White, Special Review and Reregistration Division (703) 305-8401 or white.kelly@epa.gov

Federal News

The presence of soybean rust in the United States has been confirmed. Soybean rust is potentially a very serious disease caused by two fungal species. Because most U.S. soybeans have been harvested, the impact this year is expected to be minimal. However, scientists predict that soybean rust will cost U.S. producers billions of dollars in the years to come.

Soybean rust produces two types of lesions, tan and reddish brown. Lesions are most common on leaves but may occur on petioles, stems, and pods. Tan lesions, when mature, consist of small pustules surrounded by slightly discolored necrotic area with masses of tan spores on the lower leaf surface. Reddish brown lesions have a larger reddish brown necrotic area, with a limited number of pustules and few visible spores on the lower leaf surface. Once pod set begins on soybean, infection can spread rapidly to the middle and upper leaves of the plant.

Soybean rust can be managed with the judicious use of fungicides. However, early detection is required for the most effective management of soybean rust. Monitoring soybean fields and adjacent areas is recommended throughout the growing season.

Growers and Extension personnel should become familiar with soybean rust symptoms. This web site is an excellent source of information about soybean rust http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/sbr/sbr.html The disease is spread over long distances by wind blown spores. Soybean rust is believed to have been introduced into the United States from South America by this year’s hurricanes.

The bad news is that kudzu is an alternate host for soybean rust. The worse news is that the disease does little harm to kudzu. The good news is that we have been getting ready for soybean rust. For a number of years, scientists have recognized that the introduction of soybean rust into the United States was just a matter of time. As part of its homeland security program, EPA, along with USDA and state departments of agriculture, has been proactive in planning for just such an event, and EPA has approved several fungicides for soybean growers. For a complete list of pesticides that are available as of November 16, 2004, visit http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/cb/csb_page/updates/soybean_rust.htm.

Biotechnology

According to a German study, genetically modified (GM) corn can be planted 20 meters away from conventional corn with minimal cross pollination. Scientists reported that conventional corn had no more than 0.9 percent GM if the conventional corn was grown 20 meters or more away from GM corn. Regulations in the EU require labeling for corn that contains more than 0.9 percent GM. You can read the details at http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20041124/04//.

Of course, the 0.9 percent threshold does not make everyone happy. The report says that many German corn processors and millers will not accept corn with GM contamination above 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent. Consumers that are uncomfortable with the new technology may consider even 0.2 percent too much.

Scientists in Illinois reported that they found no trace of foreign gene in the flesh or blood of piglets fed genetically modified corn. Young pigs were used in the experiment because they convert feed into flesh more efficiently than older pigs.

The researchers detected fragments of the modified gene in the stomach contents of 50 piglets, but fragments were found in only one sample from the small intestine. They detected no modified gene fragments in the only one fragment in one sample from the small intestine. These results suggest that the modified genes are usually destroyed during digestion. An earlier study with older pigs reported similar findings. (The Southern Illinoisan, 11-7-04 — yes, that is the real name of the paper.)

According to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, widespread adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops has produced substantial economic and environmental benefits. The study comprised canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soybean, and squash. The report concluded that the use of these crops in 2003 increased farmer income, boosted yields, reduced pesticides, and spurred greater use of environmentally friendly no-till agriculture.

The study revealed that between 2001 and 2003, the number of U.S. acres planted with these crops increased by 26 million acres, and that for all six crops, the percentage of acres planted with biotech varieties also increased. Of the six crops studied in 2003:

Biotech adoption rates are expected to increase as new and improved varieties are brought to the market. In addition, farmers are seeing the environmental benefits of biotech crops with more farmers using no-till cultivation practices.

The 2004 study is an update and a reinforcement of the findings of the June 2002 study by the same Center. The complete study is available at http://www.ncfap.org/. (Crop BioTech Update, 10-22-04)

The appearance of any trade name in this newsletter is not intended to endorse that product nor convey negative implications of unmentioned products.

Dear Readers:

The Georgia Pest Management Newsletter is a monthly journal for extension agents, extension specialists, and others interested in pest management news. It provides information on legislation, regulations, and other issues affecting pest management in Georgia .

Do not regard the information in this newsletter as pest management recommendations.  Consult the Georgia Pest Management Handbook, other extension publications, or appropriate specialists for this information.

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Department of Entomology
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Sincerely:

Paul Guillebeau, Associate Professor and Extension Entomologist