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Methods for protecting organic agriculture from inadvertent pesticide residue contamination

Jan 26, 2015

bucketsofapplesConcern over exposure to pesticides is one of the top reasons that people choose organic.  Several studies have shown that organic products have lower pesticide residues than conventional products.  A study published by the Organic Center, for example, examined levels of pesticide residues on organic, pesticide-free, and conventional products, and found that organic had up to 51% fewer incidences of pesticide residues than conventional food, and up to 28% fewer incidences than pesticide free food.  Another study found that organically grown foods had approximately one third as many residues as conventionally grown foods, and half as many residues as food grown with Integrated Pest Management techniques.

Despite incident levels of pesticide residue on organic products being less frequent than those on conventional products, there are still incidences of low-level pesticide residues on a small proportion of organic products.  While these residues are low and often and typically are detected at levels below applicable FDA “Action Levels,” organic growers strive to eliminate all pesticide residues on their crops. 

To improve the quality of organic and identify methods to prevent contamination at its source, the Organic Center is developing a report that will fill the gap in the organic industry knowledge about pesticide contamination vectors.  Additionally, the Center published a Dietary Risk index that identifies specific pesticides that are present on conventional and/or organic food and the levels at which they are present.  You can view the calculator here.


The Center thanks the Frontier National Products Co-op Quasi-Endowed Fund 2 of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation for their support of this project.

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