Scientists with the Entomological Society of America (ESA), the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA), and the American Phytopathological Society (APS) recently expressed concern about the precarious state of the U.S. Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP). Funding for the program has plummeted in recent years and is now in danger of evaporating completely.
As the nation's primary pesticide applicator training and education program, PSEP is responsible for ensuring the safety of applicators, other workers and the public, for protecting the environment and for providing guidance in the proper use and security of pesticides.
"In addition to certifying applicators and delivering education on the safe use of pesticides, the program today is tasked to provide guidance on a wide range of pesticide-related topics from avoiding spray drift and minimizing development of pest resistance to protecting endangered species," says Lee Van Wychen, science policy director for WSSA.
Collectively, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are responsible for ensuring that the nation's pesticide training needs are met. Since 1965, federal funds to support PSEP and its coordinators have been provided annually by EPA through USDA's Cooperative Extension System. In fiscal year 2000, for example, EPA provided $1.9 million for PSEP, but in fiscal year 2011, EPA funding has been eliminated.
The only remaining source of federal funding for PSEP is $500,000 mandated by the Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act (PRIA II), which translates to only $10,000 per state. However, this funding will end in fiscal year 2012 when the statutory authority of PRIA II expires. To compound the problem, most states have significantly reduced their funding for the personnel and basic services needed to support pesticide education through the Cooperative Extension System.
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|Contact: Richard Levine|
Entomological Society of America