PepsiCo understands these societal concerns around pesticides and takes them seriously. In recognition of these concerns, as well as evolving regulation, and potential business impacts, we established a cross-functional Global Pesticide Council comprised of senior leaders across key functions that monitors and evaluates pesticide issues and directs the Company’s policies and programs. The Council has a mission to prioritize and govern PepsiCo pesticide programs in order to ensure global compliance and minimize pesticide-related risks, including environmental and health risks associated with application of pesticides in agricultural production as well as food safety risks associated with our raw materials. We also take account of the fact that pesticides are often highly regulated and routinely evaluated by expert government agencies in markets around the world, which address both human and environmental health aspects.
Sustainable Agriculture and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Our Global Sustainable Agriculture Policy sets standards of performance and expectations for growers across our diverse, global supply chains, including compliance with governmental laws, regulations, and industry standards as well as appropriate use of pesticides. Our aim is to support sustainable practices that substitute and promote natural controls for some agrochemicals, foster ecosystem balance, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate crop losses. Our policy also recognizes the risk of water pollution from pesticides and the need to responsibly manage water runoff from farms.
To implement our policy, PepsiCo sets specific performance goals on sustainable agricultural sourcing of major agricultural raw material ingredients, and this is backed by our global Sustainable Farming Program (SFP). PepsiCo developed the SFP to be a comprehensive framework to gauge environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with our agricultural supply chain. The SFP Fundamental Principles and Scheme Rules are available on our web site and provide information on the overall framework as well as specific practices that PepsiCo expects our farmers to adopt, including measures to support safe, legal, and responsible use of pesticides and minimizing agrochemical application through IPM.
PepsiCo has worked closely with our growers for years, and we have a strong heritage of partnering with experienced farmers who are responsible stewards of natural resources. The SFP has been successfully implemented across 37 countries and with over 40,000 farmers, from large agribusinesses to smallholder farms. Crops addressed through the program include major direct materials such as corn, oats, potato, and oranges, among others. The assessments completed on our direct supply chain alone represent nearly 50 percent of our total agricultural supply chain by volume. Globally, as of 2020, nearly 87 percent of our direct-crop volume has been verified as sustainable, including 100 percent of the volume sourced from 28 countries.
SFP’s framework contains ten environmental, four social, and three economic sustainability topics, with detailed criteria and global standards for each. Under the environmental pillar, agrochemicals are one of the ten indicators, providing a platform through which PepsiCo gathers information on implementation of our principles of pesticide management. The agrochemical indicator includes seven principles, which we categorize in the following way:
Sustainable protection of crops against pests includes prevention and monitoring of pest problems, using pesticide control methods only when necessary, and targeting only the pests that can harm crops. IPM is an important tool for advancing these practices. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization defines IPM as "the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms."
Protecting food safety and quality
PepsiCo has detailed internal programs and procedures for food safety. A summary of our policies, programs, and actions may be found here.
With respect to pesticides and other agrochemicals, PepsiCo’s growers and suppliers are required to follow our Global Supplier Code of Conduct and have pesticide management programs. A copy of our Global Raw Material Quality and Food Safety Policy is included in our contracts, which require suppliers to comply with all applicable rules and regulations. We have various programs that involve pesticide audits and/or pesticide surveillance, including focused testing of raw materials for residues. Additionally, in targeted cases such as direct grower contracts for corn and potatoes in the U.S., we have a program that has been in place for over five years that requires our suppliers to provide information annually on the names of pesticides used, U.S. EPA registration numbers, and crop type. The information is reviewed by a third party as part of a selective audit process that covers application rates and dates among other information. We also selectively audit our suppliers on a regular basis to ensure quality and food safety practices broadly are in place at the supplier site. We are reviewing and revising our raw agricultural supplier programs and will introduce additional auditing as appropriate.
The legal limits for pesticide residues in commodities and finished products are governed by local laws and regulations, which cover products produced both conventionally as well as organically. These limits specify the allowable pesticide residue levels and involve significant margins of safety for consumer protection. Recent studies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the vast majority of food consumed within the U.S. and the EU, respectively, is largely free of pesticide residues or contains residues that fall within legal limits. For example, approximately 97 percent of food produced in the U.S. was compliant with federal pesticide residue limits, according to the FDA study.
PepsiCo is compliant with laws and regulations in countries where ingredients are grown and where products are sold. We are aware that concerns exist around occupational exposure to glyphosate, an herbicide used by farmers, including its use as a drying agent prior to crop harvesting. Glyphosate has been used by farmers around the world for more than 40 years because of its ability to control weeds and its safety profile, which has been vigorously tested and affirmed by numerous risk assessment authorities and independent expert panels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a thorough review of the most up-to-date safety studies, and in January 2020 they reiterated their view that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label. With respect to any residual glyphosate that may be found in food products, the trace amounts present no food safety concerns according to the standards set by, for example, U.S., Canadian, and European authorities.
Protecting bees and pollinators
We recognize the potential impact of pesticides, among other environmental stressors, on beneficial pollinators as an important issue within PepsiCo’s supply chain. With respect to the group of pesticides called neonicotinoids (neonics), our recent evaluation of the science indicates that significant advancements have been made in understanding the impact of neonics on pollinators, birds, and other organisms, resulting in additional and ongoing regulatory scrutiny, including bans in some parts of the world.
In response to these developments, PepsiCo has established a Neonics Workgroup under our Global Pesticide Council to carry forward our due diligence on scientific and regulatory matters. Additionally, we continue to implement policies and procedures, including the SFP discussed above, to address the use of all pesticides in our supply chains and minimize unintended impacts to pollinators.
Since launching the SFP Code in 2015, the program has enabled PepsiCo to obtain data and improved visibility into our agricultural supply chains, including the use of IPM. PepsiCo is in the process of engaging with our agriculture teams and growers to support the growers in developing and implementing IPM improvement programs, including training on what constitutes an acceptable IPM that is appropriate for the size/capability of the grower and also to build the business case to adopt IPM. Our goal is 100 percent compliance with our SFP Code globally, and we are using third-party verification to ensure that growers are employing the right practices, including IPM. While the impact of IPM on pesticide application will vary according to a complex set of factors, including crop type, region and climate, IPM helps reduce the amount of pesticides used.
PepsiCo actively engages with multi-stakeholder groups, peer companies, and NGOs to develop, promote, and adopt best practices related to responsible use of pesticides. We participate in a range of collaborative programs dealing with sustainable agriculture generally and pesticide use specifically. These include Field to Market, The Sustainability Consortium, Honeybee Health Collaborative, and the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, among others. These platforms allow collaboration and dialogue with peer companies, growers, and other critical stakeholders to better understand established and emerging best practices related to pesticide use and disclosure thereof and help drive industry-wide progress and solutions.
To fulfill our goals, PepsiCo’s Global Pesticide Council has developed a five-year strategic plan with clear deliverables, including industry benchmarking, centralized global regulatory tracking, and systems review. For example, the Council is currently benchmarking food industry activity and overseeing targeted ingredient testing programs.
As food safety and environmental protection remain paramount concerns to PepsiCo, we will continue to monitor the evolving science particularly around areas such as neonics and engage with stakeholders to better understand the issues as more information becomes available.
PepsiCo commits to broaden our engagement with external stakeholders on the issue of pollinator health specifically. Through this engagement and our broader understanding of the issues, we are evaluating the feasibility of additional actions we can take to protect pollinators.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 2018 European Union report on pesticide residues in food, February 24, 2020; https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2020.6057
US Food and Drug Administration, FDA’s FY 2018 Pesticide Analysis Demonstrates Consistent Trends, September 15, 2020; https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fdas-fy-2018-pesticide-analysis-demonstrates-consistent-trends
European Food Safety Authority, Pesticide residues in food: risk to consumers remains low, April 11, 2017; https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/170411
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