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PestiBytes Episode 23: "Natural or Green?" What Does it Mean?

headphones Introduction/Conclusion: Dr. Dave Stone, Director of the National Pesticide Information Center
Host: Diana Rohlman, Environmental and Health Sciences Center
Guest: Humberto Nation, NPIC Pesticide Specialist

DR. STONE: Welcome to PestiBytes, a podcast series from the National Pesticide Information Center. These are based on common pesticide questions from people just like you.


DIANA: This is Diana and I'm here with Humberto to talk about pesticides and terms like "safe," "natural," "green," or "non-toxic." Humberto, what do these words mean?

HUMBERTO: These terms can mean something different to everyone, but they are often used in marketing to convey a sense of safety.

DIANA: Are these terms accurate when describing pesticides?

HUMBERTO: Pesticides by their nature are meant to kill or repel a living organism, and therefore have some level of risk. So these terms can be misleading when used in relation to pesticides. They can possibly result in carelessness during application. As a result, the U.S. EPA does not allow safety claims, such as "non-toxic," "green," or "natural" on product labels.

DIANA: So how can consumers identify pesticide products that are considered low risk?

HUMBERTO: Consumers can look for products with a signal word of CAUTION on the label, which indicates the product is low in toxicity. There are also pesticide products so low in toxicity they are considered "minimum-risk" and are exempt from federal registration requirements. Consumers may also prefer "organic" pesticide products that do not contain man-made chemicals or genetically modified organisms. Products labeled "organic" must comply with specific standards set by the USDA National Organic Program. Finally, antimicrobial products considered to have a low impact on the environment may have the Design for the Environment (DfE) logo on their label.

DIANA: That is very helpful. Do you have any other suggestions on how consumers can minimize their risk when controlling pests?

HUMBERTO: Yes. Always read and follow the label directions. You can also consider using an integrated pest management, or IPM, approach. IPM is a way to minimize pesticide use by incorporating common sense strategies, such as prevention, monitoring, exclusion, and mechanical controls.

DIANA: Thank you Humberto!

HUMBERTO: You're welcome!


DR. STONE: If you have questions about pesticides, please call us at 1-800-858-7378 or visit us on the web at http://npic.orst.edu. PestiBytes is brought to you by the National Pesticide Information Center, a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the Environmental Protection Agency. These are produced in collaboration with OSU's Environmental Health Sciences Center, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated February 4, 2013

Related Topics:

What are pests?

Learn about a pest

Identify a pest

Control a pest

Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?





Natural and Biological Pesticides



Other types of pesticides

Disponible en español

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