Feb 5, 2020
Inconsistent pesticide residue levels (MRLs) topic of latest NPC podcast

The latest edition of the National Potato Council’s new podcast, “Eye on Potatoes,” tackles the inconsistent pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs) among nations around the world.

Varying levels of pesticide acceptance and to which they can be present on food when it reaches consumers is a major cog in the international trade of agriculture products. Experts Matt Lantz of international marketing and research firm Bryant Christie Inc., and Rachel Lattimore of crop protection trade association CropLife America joined NPC CEO Kam Quarles and host Lane Nordlund for the discussion.

Among the topics addressed, Norlund asked the panel if they saw a scenario where there is a universal MRL standard for each crop protection agent that is recognized by all nations. Lattimore said science was the unifying factor, but developing universally recognized standards will be painstaking, but necessary.

“Every country wants to protect the health and safety of their citizens,” Lattimore said. “There is a tension between the need for uniformity and that desire for the sovereignty of the individual countries to say, ‘This is what we consider to be safe.’ … Those two competing interests have to be balanced. The common ground is really science. … It is incredibly complicated science to develop these MRLs, but it’s important.”

When asked if nations intentionally use MRL levels as a tool to keep certain agricultural products out of their country, essentially giving them leverage in negotiations, the panel agreed that’s not done intentionally. Uneven standards do create trade barriers, none the less.

Also featured in the episode is a discussion with Quarles on the recently signed USMCA trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

The “Registrations And Their Impacts on U.S. Potato Exports” episode of “Eye on Potatoes” can be found at Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get podcasts.

RELATED: National Potato Council launches new podcast

Top: Rachel Lattimore, third from left, and Kam Quarles, far right, participate in an education session during the 2020 Potato Expo in Las Vegas. 

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