Consumers and farmers will soon be on their own when it comes to finding out which pesticides are being sprayed on everything from corn to apples.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday it plans to do away with publishing its national survey tracking pesticide use, despite opposition from prominent scientists, the nation’s largest farming organizations and environmental groups.

“If you don’t know what’s being used, then you don’t know what to look for,” said Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at The Organic Center, a nonprofit in Enterprise, Ore. “In the absence of information, people can be lulled into thinking that there are no problems with the use of pesticides on food in this country.”

Since 1990, farmers and consumer advocates have relied on the agency’s detailed annual report to learn which states apply the most pesticides and where bug and weed killers are most heavily sprayed to help cotton, grapes and oranges grow. Read the rest of this entry »