AUGUST 8, 1996

A public meeting on pesticide usage was convened by the International Joint Commission at the Sheraton Inn and Conference Center in Madison, Wisconsin to receive comments and views as input to the Commission's review of pesticide programs and issues in the Great Lakes basin.

About thirty people attended the session that was chaired by Ms. Adèle M. Hurley, Chair, Canadian Section of the Commission. The following four panelists presented perspectives on the issue:

Gary Jackson - Director National Farm*A*Syst/Home*A*Syst Programs
Brett Hulsey - Director, Sierra Club, Great lakes Programs
Phil Morrow - CENEX/Land O'Lakes Agronomy Company
Robert Burris - U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Mr. Gary Jackson emphasized the need for tools to give the greatest degree of flexibility to the farmer. Time, money and managerial ability are key factors in determining the suitability of tools. Herbicides are one option, but need to develop other tools. Programs such as Farm*A* Syst assess environmental risks and make a prescription for how to reduce them on a farm by farm basis. The objective is to reduce pesticide usage and to develop the management capacity to reduce environmental risk and improve health risk. It is important that compounds are used in the safest manner possible and that integrated and coordinated packages are developed that work best for the individual.

Mr. Brett Hulsey spoke from the perspective of a new father. He emphasized the need to get cancer causing chemicals off the land and out of the water and air to protect human health, particularly our children. The farm economy must be protected but we must also protect human health. Keeping chemicals off land and out of water is cheaper than treating cancer. He pointed out that nitrates and atrazine are being detected in Northern Wisconsin streams where corn is not farmed; herbicides are used on 97% of Wisconsin farm lands; pesticides are used on 25%. He suggested that current government initiatives are weakening atrazine protection. He encouraged the IJC to continue to promote phasing out of persistent toxic chemicals. The main message he left was to prevent these hazardous materials from getting into the waterways and encouraged support for organic farmers, suggesting that the market place will drive farmers to produce what the public wants. To come up with practical, common sense solutions, it is essential that partnerships be established with the agricultural community.

Mr. Phil Morrow indicated that significant progress has been made with the shift from extreme polarization to working together for common sense solutions. He pointed out that efficient agriculture and environmentally responsible agriculture are one and the same. We all reap the benefits from agriculture, in that we have access to safe, fairly priced food. Some of the problems facing the agricultural sector are unique: there are lots of farms and farmers -- its not like controlling smaller sectors, such as printing plants, in that the sector is hard to educate and regulate into lockstep; farming is a diverse, complex production system, there are only 25 to 35 cycles in an individuals lifetime; production decisions are made with relative uncertainty; central policy doesn't work as one size doesn't fit all; farmer has no mechanism for passing on or recovering new costs; accountability ultimately rests with farmers. They are hesitant to trust anyone without a proven track record. Ultimately, change will only occur one farm at a time. Programs that have worked include: integrated pest management, Wisconsin nutrient and pest management, Dupont environmental respect awards, CENEX/Land O'Lakes partners. He suggested that we stop laying the blame and get on with cooperation and partnerships to make improvements.

Mr. Bob Burris reviewed the field tour and workshop held over the past day and a half. He indicated that technology is moving faster than one can keep up with - precise applications, mapping, selective spraying, container recycling, custom applications. Results of research on various conservation practices such as buffer strips/filters have shown up to 90% reduction in off-field movement. Partnerships are essential to progress - agree to disagree but not in a disagreeable manner. The challenge is to explore possibilities and options to come up with reasonable solutions.

Following the four presentations, the floor was open to comments, questions or discussion from attendees. The following summarizes some of the main points raised in the discussions.

  1. There has been considerable improvement in the pesticide industry over last 20-30 years - labelling is now a science; we understand risk management with respect to food safety and protocols; there are rules on the books and power to enforce, we need to use them.
  2. Against partnerships - fine in their place, but need to deal directly with the farmers
  3. Reaction to item 1 - took exception to suggestion that he have adequate rules and power. Cited no measurable improvement under Wisconsin watershed management program, and NRCS confidentiality as concerns.
  4. Need for effective delivery system - farm by farm, demonstrate interest by visiting individual farmers to assess problems and work out possible solutions.
  5. A significant amout of pesticide runoff is from extreme storm events. A farmer may apply pesticide in strict accordance with the label and only as much fertilizer as needed, but if there is a heavy downpour the next day, much of it will wash into the stream. There is not much that can be done about such occurances.
  6. The question of significance of urban-residential pesticide usage was raised. Over application was recognized as a concern, but nonpesticide contamination in urban runoff waters is also a real challenge. Dr. Frank Rossi (?) of Cornell University was cited as being a strong advocate of commercial application of pesticides in residential areas. Commercial applicators control the amount used. Well maintained lawns reduce the amount of runoff.
  7. Natural lawns were applauded. Green lawn syndrome was questioned as everything we put on lawns ends up in water.
  8. Integrated pest management (IPM) originally was intended to minimize use of pesticides on crops. This is not always the current intent.
  9. Comment was made that agribusiness is controlling research agendas at universities. It was suggested that no classical biological pathology is being done at University of Wisconsin. More focus should be put on microbial and pathogen controls.
  10. Take lessons from native American - modern scientific methods without toxins.
  11. Applauded Commission for this session - unfortunate we have to have such a session.
  12. A representative of the Wisconsin Potato Growers Association countered the misperception about the lack of biological control research. Insect and biological control research is being undertaken at University of Wisconsin. He questioned sessions like this public meeting due to the rhetoric and ill-informed diatribes and prefers to work with farmers and business interests to get the job done. Action does not take place in the conference room.
  13. Mention was made of a recent partnership between Wisconsin Potato Growers and World Wildlife Fund for prescriptive spraying of potato crops. The World Wildlife Fund is exploring ways to allow growers to use its well-recognized panda logo on produce raised in accordance with various IPM techniques.
  14. 2.6 million grower dollars have been put into research for improving farming practices.
  15. IJC was encouraged to look at pollutant trading for nutrients and toxic chemicals.
  16. Partnerships can be effective in addressing specific problem areas.
  17. Third party standard-development and verification systems (e.g. ISO 9002, 14000) might be useful avenues for better defining IPM practices.
  18. Need good on-farm data to sell new concepts due to high risk - one year cycle and fear of lost return present substantial obstacle - partnerships provide hope.
  19. Significant opportunities exist for computer technology to be used in education and sharing best practices.
  20. From the average consumers perspective, the question was raised that laws are not adequate for application of fertilizers and pest sprays. A counterpoint was made that with 30,000- 60,000 farms in the state, no blanket mechanism for reporting spraying would be possible.
  21. The question of equity was raised -- the impact on the consumer of taxing a box of cereal or other consumer products would be far less than the impact on the farmer of taxing pesticide use.
  22. Suggestion was made that consumers should put dollars into research agenda -- put surcharge on our relatively cheap food to pay for research to better products.
  23. Relative exposure was raised as a concern. Where does risk from pesticides rank in comparison to indoor air quality, combustion pollution, etc. Need to identify greatest risk and build partnerships.
  24. Need to consider synergism in analyzing the health and environmental effects of pesticides.
  25. The Enforcement Standard (ES) for atrazine established by the Wisconsin Department of Health & Social Services and implemented by Wisconsin DNR contains an ample safety factor to protect Wisconsin citizens from risks due to atrazine exposure. At the ES of 3ppb, a human would need to drink 21,000 gallons of water per day for a lifetime to reach the no effect level in test animals. The Wisconsin ES of 3 ppb is 3,333 times less than EPA's "no observable defect level" (NOEL). The standard also includes the atrazine breakdown components (metalbolites) and therefore is more strict than any other state.
  26. Wisconsin probably has more atrazine data than any other state, and this data often generates negative publicity. For example: it is true that 40% of the 9,951 sample results received by DATCP have shown triazine detection. If you drop out those detects at 0.1 ppb, the limit of detection, less than 23.5% would have had a detect. And just 3.8% or 375 wells exceeded the ES. If you don't count wells known to be contaminated from a point source, only 2% or 195 wells had atrazine with detection levels higher than Wisconsin's standard.


Betsy Ahner
Wisconsin Fertilizer & Chemical Association
2317 International Lane, Suite 115
Madison, WI 53704

Ms. Lara Valigorsky
4513 Leo Drive, #4
Madison, WI 53716

Mr. David Macarus
U.S. EPA Region 5 (DRT-14J)
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604

Mr. Andrew Graham
Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
P.O. Box 1030, 52 Royal Road
Guelph, Ontario J1H 6N1

Mr. Wray Lampman
Ministry of Environment
985 Adelaide Street, S. London
London, Ontario NGE 1U3

Mr. David Sample
Wisconsin DNR
1350 Femrite Drive
Monona, WI 53716

Mr. Nelson E. Balke
University of Wisconsin
1575 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Mr. Archie Beaton
Chlorine Free Products Association
102 North Hubbard Street
Algonquin, IL 60102

Mr. Dick Fawcett
Farm Journal
Route 1, Box 44
Huxley, IA 50124

Kelly Doering
Home Environment
216 N. Henry Street
Madison, WI 53703

Mr. Rob Dittmer
Dupont Agricultural Products
11711 N. Meridian Street, Suite 210
Carmel, IN 46032

Mr. Thomas Hall
American Society of Agronomy
677 S. Segoe Road
Madison, WI 53711

Ms. Karen Sarafin
Sierra Club
214 N.Henry Street, Suite 203
Madison, WI 53703

Mr. John G. Condron
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
101 South Webster Street
Madison, WI 53707-7921

Mr. Richard Hoops
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
1800 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705-4094

Terry Lohr
Wisconsin DNR
101 S. Webster Street
Madison, WI 53707-7921

Mr. Thomas Foley
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
500 N. Fremont Street
Whitewater, WI 53190

Mr. Tim White
Medical College Of Wisconsin
1249 N. Franklin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Mr. Gregory K. Johnson
USDA-NRCS Midwest Regional Office
2820 Walton Commons West
Madison, WI 53707

Mr. Steve Diercks
109 S. Scott Street
Coloma, WI 54930

Mr. Dean Zuleger
Wisconsin Potatoes & Vegetable Growers Association
P.O. Box 327
Antigo, WI 54409

Ms. Carol Nelson
Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade
Consumer Protection
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911

Mr. Andy Amir-Fazli
2520 Waunona
Madison, WI 53713

Dr. Christine Merritt
1652 Parmenter Street
Middleton, WI 53562