Screwing up the little stuff

Pesticide-testing program halted

The Bush administration has abruptly halted a government program that tests the levels of pesticides in fruits, vegetables and field crops, arguing that the $8 million-a-year program is too expensive — a decision critics say could make it harder to protect consumers from chemicals in their food.

Data from the 18-year-old Agricultural Chemical Usage Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) were collected until this year, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used the data to set safe levels of pesticides in food.

I can only assume that by “too expensive” they mean it costs pesticide manufacturers and agribusinesses too damn much to keep contamination levels low. So next time there’s a scare and food producers lose a few hundred million because no one will buy their stuff, we can thank the Bush administration and its gang of “deregulators”.

Just for comparison, the $8-million annual cost of this program is roughly 11 millionths of the price on the Wall Street bailout, or one thousandth the monthly cost of the war in Iraq, or one tenth the annual compensation of a high-end Wall Street CEO.

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