Do you know which pesticides may have been sprayed on that bell pepper you bought recently? Neither will the U.S. government soon. The USDA announced late last month that it plans to eliminate its Pesticide Reporting at National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The program tracked national pesticide use. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists,
The program has been the public's only source of reliable data on pesticide and fertilizer use for much of the United States. These data showed that pesticide use in engineered corn, soybeans, and cotton was higher than in conventional varieties, even though the biotech industry claimed that engineered crops would need less pesticide. Without the USDA's data, UCS and other groups will have no way to track this trend into the future and evaluate the biotechnology industry's claims. The Environmental Protection Agency also relies on the data to determine which chemicals should be regulated. In response to the announcement, 44 scientific, environmental, and sustainable farming groups including UCS have asked the USDA's Secretary to reverse the decision.