Unabated use

Published: Wednesday 31 October 2001

the past eight years have witnessed a drastic increase in the use of agricultural pesticides in the us. This was revealed in a report of the General Accounting Office (gao), the investigative arm of the Congress. gao concludes that the us department of agriculture (usda) and the us environment protection agency (usepa) have done little to reduce pesticide use through the promotion of integrated pest management (ipm) programmes. usda claims that ipm has been implemented on a large-scale. But the report notes that the implementation rate is a misleading indicator of the progress made towards achieving the original purpose of ipm -- reducing chemical pesticide use.

"In preparing its estimate of ipm implementation, usda counts a wide variety of farming practices without distinguishing between those that tend to reduce chemical pesticide use from those that may not," gao officials said. "Despite usda 's initial commitment to the ipm initiative, federal efforts to support its adoption suffer from shortcomings in leadership, coordination, and management. Specifically, usda has not provided any departmental entity with the authority to lead the ipm initiative," the report states. It further alleged that usda has abandoned its early efforts to coordinate ipm activities. "In fact, the usda has vacillated about the intended results of the ipm project, causing confusion among the stakeholders," the gao charges.

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