Scientists, nutritionists and even the Environmental Protection Agency say the amount of pesticide residue on most fresh fruits and vegetables is perfectly safe, and increasing consumption of such food should be a priority.

But the produce industry doesn’t want to talk about pesticides. They’re essential in strong yields and higher quality for 95% of the fresh produce consumers eat, but it’s not a pleasant topic.

Meat producers don’t like to talk about slaughter procedures either.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report on the Pesticide Data Program is behind schedule, and that has created more attention than usual.

In the past, activist organizations, such as the Environmental Working Group, have taken the data and twisted it to scare consumers and support their pro-environment agenda, seemingly, no matter the costs.

The produce industry felt a need to counter this lobby, and the Alliance for Food and Farming stepped in to provide a voice.

But all that did was create more news and a bigger target.

It’s the classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

The latest controversy involves produce groups asking the USDA to put the pesticide data into better perspective to avoid alarming consumers, but environmental groups accused the effort as trying to manipulate the numbers and hide things.

The industry can’t win, but it should still fight. The worst response would be no response.

The truth may be unpleasant, and counterintuitive, but eating fresh produce, with trace levels of pesticides, is indeed healthy.

Consumers should fill half their plate with it.

That message is worth spreading.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.