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Pesticides are critical to providing a safe, reliable food supply

Brian R. Leahy, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation voices his opinion

Aug 29, 2014
Bee on Silphium perfoliatum

“We all reap the benefits of pesticides. They are part of the complex processes required to deliver safe food, water and healthcare,” says Brian R. Leahy in the Viewpoint section of the Californian daily “Sacramento Bee”. But thoughtful dialog around pesticide policy often becomes difficult, he adds, because “logic dies, and rhetoric and dogma can dominate the conversation.”

He goes on to say that the public increasingly want instant solutions to complex problems, but urges people to be wary of this seemingly easy way out: “ ‘instant’ and ‘scientific research’ don’t make good bedfellows”, he argues.

Discussing the particular regulatory  challenges to protect honeybees, Leahy emphasizes that even though new studies about the honeybee issue seem to appear in the media every month, they are usually correlational studies, which may suggest a relationships between two variables but do not prove that one causes the other. “They are not the sort of studies that can be used by a scientific regulatory agency, and they would not stand up in court,” says Leahy.

Instead he asks for more vigorous scientific studies on neonicotinoids and for a field study to provide real answers to help solve the puzzle over why bees are disappearing.

Read the complete Viewpoint.

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