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Kyoto Univ. Students Making Pesticide Database 2002-01-04

For years, a voluntary study group, the Kyoto Group for the Reduction of Agrochemical Pesticides (KGRAP), which mainly consists of students at Kyoto University, has been studying environmental problems relating to pesticide use. KGRAP recently began creating a pesticide database, to mark the group's thirtieth anniversary.

KGRAP was established in 1975 to study and discuss pollution from agricultural chemicals, following a pesticide poisoning incident in Wakayama Prefecture in 1967. The group holds a study meeting once a week and to help the local farmers also sells mandarin oranges grown in orchards in the prefecture that use reduced amounts of pesticides.

Through field research conducted in such an orchard for 25 years, KGRAP has collected annual data on 500 mandarin orange trees regarding pests and changes in fruit yields. These data present an unprecedented long-term observation record. The group reports, "The total pesticide use in Japan has decreased from about 700,000 tons per year in the 1970s to about 400,000 tons now. Considering the reduction in the area of farmland during this period, however, the use of pesticides per acre remains unchanged."

One of the KGRAP founders, Norio Ishida, a former professor of Kyoto University, says, "As we deal with environmental activities, we must stay aware of how difficult it is to pursue sustainable farming. We cannot consider the problems of pesticides without actually thinking about the situation on the ground in farmlands." Ishida expresses great expectations for current and future students, saying, "It is essential to continue these efforts to encourage more young people to reflect on pesticide problems while actually dealing with the practical issues of farming."

Pesticide issues cannot be resolved simply by condemning pesticides. KGRAP believes that it is important to raise consumer awareness of the problem, by providing information about pesticide issues along with farm products when they are sold.

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