Grain Fumigation:

A Multifaceted Issue Needing Coordinated Attention

CED-81-152: Published: Sep 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1981.

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Despite many years of using fumigants to eradicate insect pests from grain and grain products and despite the involvement of many government agencies in various facets of this activity, fumigant problems remain and much still needs to be learned about fumigants and their effects on vegetation, pests, and humans. A number of fumigant-related problems were identified by GAO, including the federal government's fragmented involvement in this area.

The work done by GAO disclosed that: (1) grain workers are exposed to potentially unsafe fumigant levels; (2) workers' concerns about health as a result of fumigant exposure have strained relations between some company and union officials and among other parties involved in shipping, handling, and storing grain; (3) potentially harmful fumigant residue has been found in some food products; and (4) a need exists for more knowledge about fumigants and their effects to either reduce current unwarranted anxiety levels or result in documented support for stronger, future precautionary measures. GAO further pointed out that the federal approach to the subject is fragmented; each agency often works independently without any one agency having a good overview of all that is going on. As a result, work may be duplicated among agencies, and lines of responsibility are not always clear. GAO believes that the Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group, established to allow participating agencies to work closely together on topics that cross agency lines, is a proper forum to bring various agencies together and provide the overseer role that is needed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group should accept grain fumigation as a topic for its consideration.

    Agency Affected: Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group should assume the role of overseer of the fumigation area and publicize this role to its participating agencies and others.

    Agency Affected: Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group should address the problems discussed and any related issues.

    Agency Affected: Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group

 

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