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EPA Announces Greater Public Participation In Pesticide Registrations

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is establishing a new transparent process that will allow the public to review and comment on risk assessments and proposed registration decisions for pesticides. This expanded process will apply to all new pesticide active ingredients and first food uses, first outdoor uses, and first residential uses. It is not clear at this writing whether the agency will at the same time release the underlying test data on potential adverse health effects that companies submit for product registration.

Starting October 1, 2009, the public will be able to review and comment on the risk assessments and proposed registration decisions for certain pesticide registration actions. Upon receiving a complete application for registration for a new pesticide active ingredient or a new use of an already registered active ingredient, EPA will publish a Federal Register Notice of Receipt, establish a case docket in regulations.gov, and open an initial 30-day public comment. Following the comment period, EPA will publish its decision and a response-to-comment document. Once the agency’s risk assessments and proposed decision for the registration application are added to the docket, EPA will open another 30-day public comment period. After the final comment period closes, EPA will publish its decision and response-to-comment document. By focusing public access on new pesticide ingredients and first food, outdoor, and residential uses, the public will have the opportunity to comment on all major new exposure patterns for pesticide registration.

“This new process will give the public greater opportunity to participate and understand decisions about new pesticides,” said Steve Owens, EPA Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “The Obama Administration’s emphasis on providing unparalleled transparency at EPA will increase credibility and strengthen the reputation of our pesticide registration program while improving the public dialogue surrounding controversial pesticide registration decisions.”

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requires that before selling or distributing a pesticide in the United States, a person or company must obtain registration, or license, from EPA. Before registering a new pesticide or new use for a registered pesticide, EPA must first ensure that the pesticide, when used according to label directions, can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to human health and without posing unreasonable risks to the environment. However, EPA’s assessment process is plagued with many deficiencies that allow a certain amount of harm and a high degree of uncertainty. Many pesticides that go through this process are in fact harmful to human health and the environment.

This new level of public participation in the registration process will allow the public, for the first time, to access and comment on pesticide registration applications and assessments before a chemical or product is placed on the market. Stakeholders will now also get information sooner on reduced-risk pesticides being registered that can replace some of the older and often more toxic pesticides. EPA hopes that the user community and the public will benefit from a broader understanding of the risk assessment and risk management processes associated with pesticide registration.

Simultaneously, EPA announced that it was also moving forward with a plan to disclose the identities of all so-called “inert’ ingredients in pesticides, including those that are potentially hazardous. Beyond Pesticides believes this increased transparency will assist consumers and users of pesticides in making informed decisions and will better protect public health and the environment.

For more on EPA’s public participation process and pesticide regulation, visit EPA’s Regulation Pesticides. Also read Beyond Pesticide’s “What is a Pesticide?

Source: EPA News Release


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