Pesticide info: too pesky a burden for business?
by Guest Blogger, 3/24/2005
As required by law, EPA calls on makers of pesticides to report on the "composition, toxicity, potential human exposure, environmental properties and ecological effects, and efficacy" of pesticides, so that the agency can "assess the human health and environmental risks associated with the product" and "ensure that pesticide residues in food meet the 'reasonable certainty of no harm' risk standard." We need to make sure that we aren't poisoning ourselves with pesticides, and an important component of our protection is the information that pesticide makers must disclose about the pesticides they send out into the public. Given the importance and necessity of this information, what would you think about EPA reducing the quality and quantity of pesticide information in order to save a buck or two for big business? That's exactly what the White House is ordering EPA to consider. OIRA is calling on EPA to "identify and consider cost-effective ... alternatives to its current data requirements," with an eye for reducing "the amount of data required to support a new registration" and changing "approaches to toxicity testing" in order to be "more cost-effective." OIRA is pushing, specifically, a model created by the International Life Sciences Institute -- specifically, a technical committee whose membership includes BASF Corporation, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Crop Protection, Monsanto Company, and Syngenta Ltd. OIRA wants this new model, when completed, to be given "priority consideration as an alternative to the proposed data requirements." The most recent revision to the data requirements was recently approved by OIRA subject to change. OIRA coincidentally also held a meeting with industry reps to discuss the current data requirements for pesticide makers. Interesting side note: OIRA concedes that EPA will have to jump through many hoops if (when) it decides to adopt the industry-favored model. The usual -- notice and comment, stakeholder participation, etc. Added to that list is something unusual: "efforts to minimize duplicative burdens from inconsistent international requirements." Does this note herald an age of reduced information provided to the American people, on the grounds that the patchwork of information requirements in other countries somehow suffices to inform the American public about the hazards of pesticides?