On Monday, November 17, Dr. Stephen Weller of Purdue University gave three presentations to audiences in Washington, D.C., to introduce the newest CAST Issue Paper, The Contributions of Pesticides to Pest Management in Meeting the Global Need for Food Production by 2050.
Dr. Weller and CAST EVP Linda Chimenti were hosted by Tom Van Arsdall, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NC-FAR) at briefings for Senate and House staffers. At both briefings, Dr. Tyrone Spady, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs at the American Society of Plant Biologists, served as Program Moderator. The theme of the presentation was “You Can’t Eat What Doesn’t Grow.”
For the afternoon program, hosted by the American Farm Bureau Federation at their office suite, CAST assembled a group of experts who took part in a panel discussion following Dr. Weller’s overview of the CAST paper.
Paul Schlegel, Director of the Energy and Environment Team at the American Farm Bureau Federation, stated that the CAST paper gives a good description of the “toolbox” approach that should be available for farmers. He also spoke about the shortage of laborers for farm work and the importance of informing the public about the real challenges that farmers face.
Jack Housenger, Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, described how pesticides are reviewed and licensed. The EPA looks at residues on food and in water and can take a pesticide off the market if the risk is deemed too high. He added that resistance management is a very “hot topic” currently.
Rob Hedberg, National Director for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), spoke about the challenge of getting agreement on a definition of “sustainable.” He complimented the CAST paper’s authors for addressing the issue of quality of life within the document and emphasized the important role science must play in educating the next generation of consumers.
At the conclusion of their discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience, and many attendees stayed to speak informally with the panel members and Dr. Weller.
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