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Scientists take objective look at terms 'least toxic pesticides' applied as 'last resort'
Date:11/12/2012

y pest spectrum that are least toxic to everything else. This is not true. The toxicity of a pesticide depends on what is being evaluated short-term or long-term toxicity and who or what may be affected (e.g. applicators, farmworkers, livestock, wildlife, pets, birds, fish, beneficial insects, earthworms, sediment-dwelling organisms, crops). It is also important to remember that toxicity is not the same as risk, which is dependent on both toxicity and exposure.
  • The risk associated with the use of pesticides and other chemicals is managed by establishing safe exposure levels based on the toxicity specific to each product. Assigning a "most" or "least" toxic rating does not equate to actual risk when the product is properly applied. For example, the label of a pesticide product that may cause skin irritation will also contain requirements for personal protective equipment that safeguards the skin, while a product that may affect fish will contain use directions, precautions and possibly even restrictions intended to protect fish. This is why the EPA-approved label instructions must be followed.
  • All pesticides including those referred to as "least toxic," "organic" and "natural" are toxic to one or more pests and possibly humans and other organisms as well. Use of these terms can lead to false security regarding the need for careful handling of pesticides and proper environmental stewardship.
  • Over-reliance on a "least toxic" pesticide can cause new problems. For example, glyphosate is considered a "least toxic" herbicide choice, but overreliance on it has led to significant weed resistance problems. Over-use or misuse of any pest management tactic can cause problems for example, cultivation to control weeds on hilly land can cause soil erosion, and excessive hand-hoeing can cause back injuries and increase the risk of skin cancer.
  • Often, "least toxic" products do not work as well on the pest(s), leading to the need
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  • Contact: Lee Van Wychen
    Lee.VanWychen@wssa.net
    202-746-4686
    Entomological Society of America
    Source:Eurekalert

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