How Did This Happen?
If a farmer scrupulously follows the instructions on the pesticide label, his use of agricultural chemicals will produce no residues larger than permitted by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s similar to not overusing antibiotics, which has been shown to produce drug resistant “supergerms" that are difficult to control.
Setting aside the question whether these legal pesticide residues are safe, it remains a well-known fact that farmers frequently exceed the recommended dosages, put chemicals on too close to harvest time, and use several insecticides when one will do the job. Consequently, these higher dosages and haphazard combinations create a disturbing number of violations.
The Food and Drug Administration can only protect us to a limited extent, meaning its jurisdiction is only over foods shipped in interstate commerce. Foods grown and marketed within a particular state have their own purview of authority for safety. And, of course, the small number of federal inspectors means only a small percent of crop products can be checked.
Also, most states have woefully inadequate laws in this field. The problem of safety does not take into account accidental contamination in processing, packaging and transportation.