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Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavenaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: We take you to a state where more than 60,000 kids are chronically absent from school; and we'll let you know why the rural digital divide can be a two-fold problem.

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Produce, Pesticides Can Coexist in IA, But Only with Proper Planning

PHOTO: Those who rely on local and fresh foods in Iowa are asking for more careful application of pesticides by farmers who use them on their crops. Photo credit: Carl Wycoff/Flickr
PHOTO: Those who rely on local and fresh foods in Iowa are asking for more careful application of pesticides by farmers who use them on their crops. Photo credit: Carl Wycoff/Flickr
July 2, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - The picnic tables will be loaded with fresh foods as friends and family gather for the Fourth of July, but some in Iowa believe there is a threat to the integrity of those locally produced fruits and vegetables.

Donna Prizgintas, a chef in Ames who relies on fresh ingredients from area growers, said she has concerns about pesticide drift and residue for produce farmers, home gardeners and consumers.

"I think Iowans are not aware of ... the levels of glyphosates and nitrates that are in our water, in our air," she said. "Our food can be fairly pesticide-laden."

Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide and, in a recent assessment, it was frequently detected in Iowa surface waters, rain and air.

The agricultural industry is vital to Iowa's economy, Prizgintas said, adding that with better cooperation, pesticides and produce can coexist.

"Some farmers and companies spray very responsibly," she said. "There are guidelines, there are registrations. You're not supposed to spray if the wind is blowing. You have no-spray zones you're supposed to observe - but regularly, there are mistakes."

Prizgintas said the careful application of pesticides will be even more important going forward, with the expected approval of corn and soybeans tolerant to the pesticide 24D.

"Now this may come as soon as next summer," she said, "and this is adding a whole new pesticide to the equation."

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship operates a registry for producers to list the locations of their sensitive crops, so pesticide applicators can identify those areas and minimize the potential for damage from drift.

More information is online at iowaagriculture.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA