Skip to main content

GAO study finds pesticide residue programs can improve

11/18/2014 01:20:00 PM
Tom Karst


The Food and Drug Administration sampling program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program have room for improvement in the way they collect and share data on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables and other food, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The GAO study recommends that FDA improve its methodology and FDA and USDA disclose limitations in the monitoring and data collection efforts. FDA said it will consider methodological changes and will disclose limitations, and USDA also agreed with GAO’s recommendations to disclose limitations of its annual report on pesticide residues, according to a summary of the GAO report.

Industry sources said the report doesn’t change the fact that government tests show that fruits and vegetables are safe for consumers.

“While the report provides recommendations to USDA and FDA for enhancing their respective pesticide monitoring programs, there is nothing in OMB’s report that disagrees with both agencies’ annual bottom line conclusion: that residue violations on fresh fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are a rare event, and in virtually all detections, residue levels are well below any public health risk,” said David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

Teresa Thorne, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Food and Farming, said FDA and USDA sampling shows an extremely high level of compliance with existing pesticide laws and regulations. “The consistency of the residue level across multiple sampling programs is an important indication that compliance is quite high and produce is very safe,” she said.

The November GAO study, titled “FDA and USDA Should Strengthen Residue Monitoring Programs and Further Disclose Monitoring Limitations,” was requested by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, Committee on Energy and Commerce. The report was compiled from November 2012 to October 2014.

The FDA’s most recent data from 2008 through 2012 show that pesticide residue violation rates in 10 selected fruits and vegetables were low, but FDA’s approach to monitoring for violations has limitations, according to the GAO. The FDA tested less than one-tenth of 1% of imported shipments in 2012, according to the report. In addition, the GAO said that the agency does not disclose in its annual monitoring reports that it does not test for several pesticides with an Environmental Protection Agency established tolerance (the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that is allowed to remain on or in a food) — including glyphosate, the most used agricultural pesticide. Glyphosate can be applied directly to genetically modified grain, soybeans and cotton crops designed to be resistant to the herbicide, but also is applied to soil prior to planting a wide variety of crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Though the agency is not required by law to select particular commodities for sampling or test for specific pesticides, the GAO said that disclosing this limitation would help meet Office of Management and Budget best practices for conducting and reporting data collection and help users of the reports interpret the data. Finally, the GAO said that FDA doesn’t use statistically valid methods consistent with OMB standards to collection national information on the incidence and level of pesticide residues.

FDA officials said that it would be costly to calculate national estimates for the foods it regulates because it would require a large number of samples for a wide array of products, but did not provide documentation on the cost of doing so or an assessment of the trade-offs of doing less targeting and more random sampling, according to the GAO. Limitations in FDA’s methodology hamper its ability to determine the national incidence and level of pesticide residues in the foods it regulates, the GAO report concluded.

The GAO report said the most recent data from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s annual survey of highly consumed commodities, including fruits and vegetables, show that, from 1998 through 2012, pesticide residue detections varied by commodity and were generally well below tolerance levels. EPA and others praise AMS’s data collection efforts as providing valuable information on the incidence and level of pesticide residues in foods, according to the GAO. In addition, while the sampling methodology used by AMS in the Pesticide Data Program meets many of OMB’s best practices for conducting and releasing information to the public concerning a data collection effort, the GAO said the program falls short in probability sampling of commodities.

“AMS does not disclose these limitations in its annual monitoring reports, users of the data may misinterpret information in these reports and draw erroneous conclusions based on the data,”
according to the GAO report. 

The USDA AMS, in response to GAO recommendations, said that it plans to add a description of the sampling methodology employed for site selection (including how states, food distribution centers/sites, and commodities are identified and selected) for inclusion in the PDP Annual Summary report.

- See more at:

Popular posts from this blog


While "Flavor" is very subjective, and each country that grows mangoes is very nationalistic, these are the mango varieties that are the most sought after around the world because of sweetnesss (Brix) and demand.

The Chaunsa has a Brix rating in the 22 degree level which is unheard of!
Carabao claims to be the sweetest mango in the world and was able to register this in the Guiness book of world records.
Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL taste test ???

In alphabetical order by Country....



Alphonso (mango)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alphonso (हापुस Haapoos in Marathi, હાફુસ in Gujarati, ಆಪೂಸ್ Aapoos in Kannada) is a mango cultivar that is considered by many[who?] to be one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. 

It has considerable shelf life of a week after it is ripe making it exportable. 

It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in Kokan region of western India.

 It is in season April through May and the fruit wei…

Mangoes date back 65 million years according to research ...

Experts at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) here have traced the origin of mango to the hills of Meghalaya, India from a 65 million year-old fossil of a mango leaf. 

The earlier fossil records of mango (Mangifera indica) from the Northeast and elsewhere were 25 to 30 million years old. The 'carbonized leaf fossil' from Damalgiri area of Meghalaya hills, believed to be a mango tree from the peninsular India, was found by Dr R. C. Mehrotra, senior scientist, BSIP and his colleagues. 

After careful analysis of the fossil of the mango leaf and leaves of modern plants, the BISP scientist found many of the fossil leaf characters to be similar to mangifera.

An extensive study of the anatomy and morphology of several modern-day species of the genus mangifera with the fossil samples had reinforced the concept that its centre of origin is Northeast India, from where it spread into neighbouring areas, says Dr. Mehrotra. 

The genus is believed to have disseminated into neighb…

INDIA 2016 : Mango production in state likely to take a hit this year

TNN | May 22, 2016, 12.32 PM IST

Mangaluru: Vagaries of nature is expected to take a toll on the production of King of Fruits - Mango - in Karnataka this year. A combination of failure of pre-monsoon showers at the flowering and growth stage and spike in temperature in mango growing belt of the state is expected to limit the total production of mango to an estimated 12 lakh tonnes in the current season as against 14 lakh tonnes in the last calendar year.

However, the good news for fruit lovers is that this could see price of mangoes across varieties decrease marginally by 2-3%. This is mainly on account of 'import' of the fruit from other mango-growing states in India, said M Kamalakshi Rajanna, chairperson, Karnataka State Mango Development and Marketing Corporation Ltd.

Karnataka is the third largest mango-growing state in India after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Inaugurating a two-day Vasanthotsava organized by Shivarama Karantha Pilikula Nisargadhama and the Corporation at P…