Scientists from the Weed Science Society of America have joined with the American Phytopathological Society, as well as the Entomological Society of America to recognize the 50-year anniversary of the national Land-Grant University Pesticide Safety Education Program.
The program remains the focal point for pesticide safety education throughout the United States.
The Pesticide Safety Education Program had its genesis in 1964 to enhance pesticide label compliance and to develop the first training manuals.
In the beginning, the program was under the direction of each Land-Grant University’s Cooperative Extension Program and was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 1970, USDA passed the safe-use education torch to the newly created U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which concentrated especially on safety issues on the farm and in other occupations.
In 1978, EPA classified the first 12 restricted-use pesticides. Applicators were required to demonstrate competency to apply RUPs, and Pesticide Applicator Training served as the primary developer and deliverer to inform and educate on safe pesticide use.
Today, there are many more RUPs, and many states now require whole categories of users to be certified, even if they do not apply RUPs. Examples include certification of hired applicators, public employees and those treating schools or aquatic environments. In fact, an estimated 40% of certified applicators in the U.S. today do not apply RUPs.
Last year, approximately 900,000 certified applicators in the U.S. applied pesticides or supervised their use. Many more individuals who did not require certification sold, transported, stored, mixed, applied, disposed or were otherwise involved in the life-cycle management of pesticides. To reach all these audiences, PSEP and its not-for-profit partners provided in-person and on-line training sessions, distance education, manuals, brochures, presentations and videos.