When it comes to pests, Americans are spoiled. That's good news and bad news.

The good news is we expect — and have been rewarded with — an abundant supply of nutritious, affordable food to eat in our insect-free backyards while we walk barefoot through the healthy green grass.

The bad news is Americans don't realize that it's the judicious use of pesticides and crop biotechnology that brings the bounty of America's heartland to supermarket shelves and ultimately our dinner tables, while protecting and enhancing our health, homes, schools, rights of way and businesses.

That's about to change. Through its trade associations, CropLife America and RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), U.S. pesticide and crop technology manufacturers, formulators and distributors are laying the foundation for a change in their industry's culture. The industry is refocusing its attention to highlight and lead with its benefits.

“For too long, our industry focused exclusively on promoting our successes in safety assessment and management,” said Jay Vroom, president, CropLife America. “These messages — the rigorous testing and EPA regulations — are valid and continue to resonate, but they are not enough.”

To kick off this industry paradigm shift, George McGovern, recently retired U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, a decorated war hero, 22-year U.S. legislator and 1972 presidential candidate, will be the keynoter at “Doing a World of Good,” the CropLife America/RISE conference on pesticide and crop technology benefits at the Crystal City, Va., Marriott Hotel, April 9.

“We've done ourselves a disservice by not connecting the dots to showcase our benefits,” said Allen James, president, RISE. “Sadly, we've concluded that too many people who need to know have little or no idea the impact our products have in getting food and fiber to their retail stores, protecting our families, homes and businesses from disease-carrying and damaging pests, all the while enriching the environment for all of us.”

Leonard Gianessi with the National Center for Food and Ag Policy will present his preliminary research findings on “Documenting the Benefits of Pesticides in U.S. Crop Production.” NCFAP's study on 40 individual crops will examine historical evidence encompassing the last 50 years since synthetic chemicals have been available, experimental evidence from Extension Service scientists that documents the performance of alternatives, comparison with organic alternative, comparison with foreign markets and emergency use of pesticides as a solution to unanticipated pests.

Speakers also include Susan Moore of the American Chemistry Council with “Lessons Learned” by the American Plastics Council and Jerome Goddard of Mississippi State Department of Health with his down-home look at pests as the problem. The conference closes on April 10 with luncheon remarks by J. B. Penn, USDA undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services.

Established in 1933, CropLife America (formerly the American Crop Protection Association) represents the developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of plant science solutions for agriculture and pest management in the United States. CropLife America member companies produce, sell and distribute virtually all the crop protection and biotechnology products used by American farmers.

For more information, contact Pat Getter by telephone at 202-872-3893 or pgetter@croplifeamerica.org.