Beyond Pesticides is working to change local, state, and national pesticide policy in order to protect health air, water, land, and food for ourselves and future generations. They work with allies to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides through knowledge and by promoting safe alternatives.
Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Stephanie Davio, Forum Coordinator/Program Director at Beyond Pesticides.
Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?
Stephanie Davio (SD): We contribute by promoting and strengthening organic agriculture. Our program strives to prevent, rather than simply reduce, toxic chemical use and recognize the power of biological systems at a time when increasingly smaller doses of systemic chemicals (which contaminate pollen and nectar) wreak havoc with life and nature’s balance. Organic food contributes to better health through reduced pesticide exposure for all and increased nutritional quality.
In order to understand the importance of eating organic food from the perspective of toxic pesticide contamination, we need to look at the whole picture—from the farmworkers who do the valuable work of growing food, to the waterways from which we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. Organic food can feed us and keep us healthy without producing the toxic effects of chemical agriculture.
FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of?
SD: Our Eating with a Conscience database evaluates the impacts on the environment and farm workers of the toxic chemicals allowed for use on major food crops, grown domestically and internationally. This tool helps us to promote organic food, which is nurtured in a system of food production, handling and certification that rejects hazardous synthetic chemicals.
USDA organic certification is the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight, assuring consumers that toxic, synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health. This eliminates commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic–pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife.
FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?
SD: With our organic work and Keeping Organic Strong campaign, Beyond Pesticides is working to improve the integrity of the organic program, and public trust in the organic label, leading to exponential growth. As we seek continuous improvement in organic, we are advancing our challenge to harmful chemical-intensive pest management practices, given the viability of organic management systems that eliminate hazards.
FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?
SD: Consumer food buying decisions have a direct effect on the health of the environment and those who grow and harvest food, and as such, the most important thing consumers and eaters can do is to buy food that is both organic and local.
FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?
SD: Sign up for our mailing list to receive action alerts, newsletters and more, or simply call our organization for direct support and information through our public education program: 202-543-5450.
Beyond Pesticides has a dedicated staff person to assist the public with questions about pesticides, health and environmental impacts, alternatives and policies. As one of the only national organizations that offers this service, Beyond Pesticides assists thousands of people each year by phone, online, and in person at our annual conference.
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