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EPA initiative to reduce pesticide use

EPA initiative to reduce pesticide use

EPA Memorandum, Aug. 31, 1993

EPA Initiative to Reduce Pesticide Use and implement the Recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences' Report "Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children," and Food Safety Reform

Douglas D. Campt, Director, Office of Pesticide Programs

All OPP Employees

As you are aware, the Clinton Administration recently announced a dramatic shift in the government's approach to the use of pesticides. In June, Administrator Browner, Secretary Espy of USDA, Commissioner Kessler of FDA, accepted the challenge of a new goal to reduce use of pesticides through a variety of new and ongoing government programs. They pledged to work with farmers, environmentalists, farmworker advocates, consumer groups, pesticide manufacturers, food processors, and Congress to promote food safety by employing safer pest management strategies and strengthening our food safety laws. For the first time ever, the federal government is formally committed to real reductions in pesticide use. For EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, this means a new tack in pesticide regulation that focuses on reducing the overall risks--one that is more attuned to reducing the use of pesticides and promoting sustainable agriculture and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices. This new initiative is a bold step that brings both challenge and opportunities to our program. I am very excited about it.

In addition to the pesticide use reduction initiative, the National Academy of Sciences' Report, "Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children" raises new challenges for us to improve health protection, particularly for infants and children. In this report, the Academy makes numerous recommendations for change in the way the government regulates agricultural, or food-use pesticides in order to provide a greater level of protection to children. This study, commissioned by EPA and Congress in 1988, is the result of intensive work and research into the way the federal government, particularly the EPA, regulates pesticides in foods with special emphasis on the foods regularly eaten by infants and children.

Efforts are already underway to address and implement the Academy's recommendations and start the ball rolling toward our goal of reducing pesticide use. The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) has been given the lead in EPA's efforts in carrying out this initiative. We have organized into three levels of oversight: the Interagency Policy Committee comprised of EPA's (Acting) Assistant Administrator for for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, Victor Kimm, Deputy USDA Secretary, Richard Rominger, and FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Michael Taylor; the Steering Committee, chaired by me, includes OPP's Senior Management Board, other Offices within EPA, including several regional offices, and representatives from USDA and FDA; and 6 workgroups which will serve as the core of this initiative. Four of the workgroups are charged specifically with addressing the recommendations brought forth by the National Academy of Sciences' scientists to better control risk. These workgroups are Toxicology, chaired by Marcia van Gemert' Residue Data and Tolerance Setting, chaired by Debra Edwards; Food Consumption, chaired by Dick Schmitt and Jim Kariya; and Risk Assessment, chaired by Penny Fenner-Crisp. The other two workgroups focus on broader pesticide exposure concerns. These two workgroups, Pesticide Incident Monitoring, chaired by Arty Wllliams, and Pesticide Use Reduction, chaired by Al Jennings, are designed to explore ways to better understand present aspects of pesticide exposure from incidents and devise programs to reduce use and overall risks from exposure. The Policy and Special Projects Staff will serve as the Executive Secretariat to the initiative and will coordinate all of the activities of the Committees and Workgroups.

Each workgroup has prepared a report outlining the current status of work on their topic and the potential areas for short-term and long-term programs. Administrator Browner is very anxious to implement many of the ideas quickly. OPP is actively pursuing many of them and has already put this initiative in motion. This is an action-based initiative which I expect to culminate in tangible results and make a real difference in reducing exposure associated with pesticide use.

On September 9, Administrator Browner, Secretary Espy, and Commissioner Kessler will present to Congress the Administration's package of recommendations for legislative reform in food safety. The three agendes are working together as a team to put together a package which ensures a continued safe food supply and reduced risks to people and the environment. The package supports both a science based - standard for setting pesticide tolerances for food uses and new tools for EPA in the tolerance and registration review process. It will provide new regulatory options to reduce risk in a timely manner without resulting in costly or disruptive cancellation or suspension proceedings. Additional goals in the Administrator's package are:

Promote the development, registration, and use of safer pest management alternatives;

Eliminate cumbersome procedures for removing pesticides which pose unreasonable risks;

Improve data on pesticide use to measure progress towards reduction goals;

Provide EPA and FDA with tools necessary to ensure pesticide laws are adequately and appropriately enforced;

Prohibit export of pesticides canceled for heaith or safety concerns; and

Enhance EPA's ability to make reregistration decisions in a timely manner by increasing revenues for the pesticide program.

As we move from the planning stages into high gear of implementing pesticide reform, I hope all of you are as enthusiastic as I am, and will join in this effort with your support and cooperation.

Victor Kimm
Susan Wayland
Lynn Goldman