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EPA Funds Project to Demonstrate Less is Better With Insecticides at Blueberry Farms in New Jersey

Release Date: 06/23/2005
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FOR RELEASE: Thursday, June 23, 2005

(#05071) NEW YORK -- At a blueberry farm in Atlantic County, New Jersey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Regional Administrator Kathleen C. Callahan today presented a $118,300 check to Rutgers University to fund a two-year project to demonstrate that production of the state's highest valued crop can be sustained while reducing farmers' dependence on insecticides. In 2003, 40 million pounds of blueberries valued at $45.6 million were grown in New Jersey.

"New Jersey's farms play an essential role in the state's economy, but overuse of chemical insecticides can harm sensitive environments, such as the New Jersey Pinelands, where most of the state's blueberries are grown," said EPA's Callahan at the Atlantic Blueberry Company in Hammonton. "It's a simple equation. The smaller the amount of chemicals applied to the blueberry crop, the smaller the amount that washes into our waterways."

Rutgers will use the EPA funding to explore more novel, reduced-risk methods for controlling insects and pests in blueberry production. The project is part of the Agency's overall efforts to promote integrated pest management practices, protect public health and reduce non-point source pollution in ecologically sensitive watershed areas. It will also help reduce farm worker exposure to insecticide residues.

Rutgers' Fruit Research and Extension Center has been working since April with state and county organizations and four farms to identify cost effective ways to control the blueberry maggot and oriental beetle and track the impacts of reduced chemical pesticides on species in blueberry fields while measuring and recording the amounts of organophosphate and carbamate used.

Accepting the grant from Ms. Callahan was Dean Polk of Rutgers University. Also joining EPA from the state were LeRoy Meyer, of the Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Pesticide Control, as well as the growers from the four farms, Robert Galetta of the Atlantic Blueberry Company, Jeff Whalen of Whalen Farms, Sal Colasurdo of Mill Rock Farms and Paul Macrie of the Macrie Brothers Blueberry Farm, who is also the president of the Atlantic County Board of Agriculture, which has endorsed the project.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices, such as mating disruption techniques. IPM programs use the latest information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

The IPM approach takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options, including the judicious use of pesticides, as compared to organic food production, which limits the use of pesticides to those that are produced from natural sources. The acceptance of the IPM approach in food production is best described as a continuum
and EPA's goal is to move growers further along the continuum to using all appropriate IPM techniques.

To find out more about Integrated Pest Management visit EPA's Web site at