AP story

An Associated Press story about flower certification programs and pesticide use is running in papers all over the country today.  Read it for yourself and see what you think–meanwhile, some important points that demonstrate that not all eco-labels are created equal:

–Of 600 flower farms in Colombia, only 200 are members of that country’s growers’ association, Asocolflores.

–Of those 200, only 86, or 14 percent of all Colombian farms, are certified through the association’s environmental program, FlorVerde.

–Of those 86 farms, 36 percent of them reported using chemicals categorized by the WHO as extremely hazardous.  These Category 1 and 2 chemicals are banned by most certification programs.

–A university survey funded in part by the association showed that only 16 percent of member farms complied with greenhouse reentry times designed to protect workers after spraying.

The attitude among some in the flower industry has been that there are no problems on flower farms, and that various programs initiated by the growers are taking care of things.  I think this new data shows that not all programs are created equal.  Consumers want transparency and accountability.  We want to see eco-labels that show us that the flowers we are buying really are grown with very environmentally friendly, if not organic, practices.  Minimal standards that barely exceed what the law requires isn’t going to cut it.

You can read my recent story in the SF Chronicle for more on new labels for cut flowers with much higher standards–VeriFlora and FairTrade. I am also quoted in another AP story – this one about eco-friendly Valentine’s Day gifts.