How Protective to the Environment is the Pesticide Risk Assessment and Registration Process in the United States?

Authors

  • Dwayne Moore Intrinsik Ltd. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1763-0223
  • Caleb McCarroll-Butler Intrinsik Corp.
  • Raghavendhran Avanasi Syngenta Crop Protection
  • Wenlin Chen Syngenta Crop Protection
  • Mark White Syngenta Crop Protection
  • Richard Brain Syngenta Crop Protection https://orcid.org/

Keywords:

pesticide risk assessment, pesticide registration, conservatism, environmental protection, regulatory science

Abstract

The media, public, and other stakeholders are generally unaware of the degree of protection provided to the environment by the current pesticide registration process in the United States. Each pesticide product must meet extensive fate and toxicological data requirements (typically 100+ studies) to be considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA uses that information to conduct ecological, human health, and benefits assessments and make decisions on whether to register pesticides and, if so, under what conditions. The assessments rely on conservative assumptions, models, and inputs to consistently err on the side of caution throughout the pesticide registration process. The rigorous compliance requirements specified in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) are designed to preclude unacceptable adverse effects. However, this reality seldom, if ever, makes headlines. Pesticides are not causing the dire widespread apocalyptic effects often portrayed by some media outlets. Rather, pesticides have been doing what they were intentionally designed to do, controlling pests and increasing yields, within the stringent limitations of registered labels. The continually evolving pesticide registration process was originally predicated on the unintended adverse effects neither anticipated nor considered over 50 years ago, due to insufficient regulation and oversight at the time. However, the contemporary regulatory paradigm in the U.S. is data rich and analysis intensive by design, and perhaps understandably, biased towards ensuring environmental protection when registering pesticides.

https://doi.org/10.21423/jrs-v09i2moore

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