We Need Your Help To Tell the State That Organic IS Sustainable Pest Management

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Written by Rebekah Weber on Monday, October 16, 2023
Flower Field

The Department of Pesticide Regulation is hosting a series of public meetings to hear feedback on their strategic plan. This plan will set their agenda for the next five years, and organic is not mentioned at all. In fact, the Department intends to create new certifications for sustainable pest management—making farmers jump through more hoops. Please consider joining a public meeting and telling the Department that organic certification is the sustainable pest management certification.

Attend a Public Meeting (information below and on the Department's website):

  1. Thursday, October 19
    When: 4:00–6:30 p.m. PDT
    Where: Held virtually, join via Zoom
  2. Monday, October 30
    When: 4:00–6:30 p.m. PDT
    Where: Ramsay Park Family Center
    1301 Main Street
    Watsonville, CA 95076
  3. Friday, November 3
    When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PDT
    Where: Held virtually, join via Zoom
  4. Monday, November 6
    When: 4:00–6:30 p.m. PST
    Where: Meitzenheimer Community Center
    830 S. Blackstone Street
    Tulare, CA 93274

What To Say:

  • The Department of Pesticide Regulation should not create new certifications for sustainable pest management. Instead, the Department should support organic farmers because organic farming is sustainable pest management.
  • Organic standards prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Organic farmers use ecological methods to build soil health and manage pests, weeds, and diseases. Organic allows a limited toolbox of synthetics only after ecological methods prove insufficient, and the farmer ensures crops, soil, and water are not contaminated. Out of 900 synthetic pesticides, 27 are approved for restricted organic use while growing food. Each of these materials is reviewed every five years for adverse human and environmental health impacts. 
  • As a result, organic farming supports diverse populations of beneficial birds and insects that prevent and control pest outbreaks, thereby reducing reliance on pesticides.1,2,3,4  Extensive global analyses demonstrate that organic farms support higher populations of beneficial insects and bird species than conventional farms. Organic farms host on average 50 percent more organisms than conventional farms5,  particularly natural pest enemies and pollinators.6,7 
  • Organic farmers are required to implement practices that conserve biodiversity.8 Research shows that organic farming increases biodiversity by 30 percent compared to conventional farming.9 Similarly, another comprehensive meta-analysis shows that organic farming significantly increases populations of beneficial insects, birds, and soil-dwelling organisms, as well as non-bird vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, etc.) and plants.10


1 Hole, D. G., Perkins, A. J., Wilson, J. D., Alexander, I. H., Grice, P. V., & Evans A. D. (2005). Does organic farming benefit biodiversity? Biological Conservation, 122, 113–130.
2 Crowder, D. W., Northfield, T. D., Strand, M. R., & Snyder, W. E. (2010). Organic agriculture promotes evenness and natural pest control. Nature, 466, 109–112.
3 Balvanera, P., Pfisterer, A. B., Buchmann, N., He, J., Nakashizuka, T., Raffaelli, D., & Schmid, B., (2006).
4 Oerke, E. C. (2006). Crop losses to pests. J. Agr. Sci., 144, 31–43.
5 Bengtsson, J., Ahnstrom, J. & Weibull, A. (2005). The effects of organic agriculture on biodiversity and abundance: A meta-analysis. J. Appl. Ecol., 4, 261–269.
6 Ibid.
7 Lichtenberg, E. M., Kennedy, C. M., Kremen, C., Batary, P., Berendse, G., Bonmarco, R., ... Crowder, D. (2017). A global synthesis of the effects of diversified farming systems on arthropod diversity within fields and across agricultural landscapes. Glob Change Biol., 23, 4946–4957.
8 United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service. Guidance: Natural resources and biodiversity conservation. (2016). https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NOP%205020%20Biodiversity%20Guidance%20Rev01%20%28Final%29.pdf
9 Tuck, S. L., Winqvist, C., Mota, F., Ahnstrom, J., Turnbull, L. A., & Bengtsson, J. (2014). Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: A hierarchical meta-analysis. J. Appl. Ecol., 51(3), 746–755.
10 Crowder, D. W., Northfield, T. D., Gomulkiewicz, R., & Snyder, W. E. (2012). Conserving and promoting evenness: Organic farming and fire-based wildland management as case studies. Ecology, 93, 2001–2007.