So this is interesting. Scientific Certification Systems has a "pesticide residue free" certification program that either organic or non-organic growers can participate in. The idea is that no matter how you grow your food, as long as it's free of residues when it goes to market, it will be more appealing to people who, say, are concerned about possible links between pesticide exposure and ADHD or other such things.
The risk, of course, with all of these certifications is that it will be too much for the harried shopper to wade through. What do these labels really mean, what do they really guarantee, etc. etc.
Now, in the case of SCS, I have some personal experience with them because I talked to them while they were developing the VeriFlora standard for flowers. Navigating the line between "organic" and "sustainable" is never easy, but SCS has made a go at it with a number of products, from coffee to timber to flowers.
And now the latest news is that the "certified pesticide residue free" label can also include ornamental plants (see press release PDF here). From the press release:
The expansion of this certification allows horticultural producers to assure their customers that their flowering and ornamental plants are of the highest quality and safe for their homes and gardens. …While consumers have long demanded safety certification for food products, they are now seeking transparency in other products that have traditionally brought pesticides into their homes. Buying Pesticide Free plants helps minimize the risk of exposing pets and family to harmful pesticides.
So what do we think? Is this a good thing? Are you more likely to buy, say, a ficus tree, a boxwood, a rose bush, or a poinsettia, if it comes with a "pesticide residue free" label? When you're buying ornamental plants, do you think about organic at all? And if you do–are you thinking about your own safety, or about the safety of the workers in the greenhouse, the river that runs behind the greenhouse, and the overall greater good? Or both?