Food Safety:

USDA Data Program Not Supporting Critical Pesticide Decisions

IMTEC-92-11: Published: Jan 31, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1992.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Jayetta Hecker
(202) 512-8984
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Coordinated Pesticide Data Program to determine whether: (1) the program produces the data needed for making improved pesticide regulatory decisions; and (2) USDA has an effective strategy for managing program data.

GAO found that: (1) USDA launched the Coordinated Pesticide Data Program to provide better pesticide data that would be beneficial to it, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in their regulatory responsibilities; (2) the program's key objectives are to collect comprehensive, statistically valid, and scientifically based pesticide usage and residue data and to provide EPA with data it can use in making pesticide reregistration decisions; (3) USDA components plan to collect pesticide usage and residue data for fruit and vegetable crops from several states; (4) USDA pesticide usage surveys are proceeding on schedule, and EPA and FDA have expressed satisfaction with the resulting data; (5) USDA pesticide residue data collection efforts are behind schedule, have been significantly reduced in scope from original plans, and will not yield statistically reliable results; (6) USDA underestimated the complexities in planning and implementing activities and requirements for sampling methods, laboratory testing, and quality assurance; (7) USDA, EPA, and FDA lack an agreement as to program direction and assessment; and (8) USDA has not developed a strategy to determine whether available computer resources can adequately process or disseminate the data collected, and system requirements remain largely undefined.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA and FDA officials have communicated in writing to the Administrator, AMS, their agencies' support for the continuation of the Pesticide Data Program.

    Recommendation: To help establish a better foundation for the success of the UDSA Coordinated Pesticide Data Program, the Secretary of Agriculture, after completing the current data collection effort with the existing 6 states, 7 commodities, and 11 pesticides, should not proceed with further residue data collection activities until the Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), evaluates, in conjunction with EPA and FDA officials, the results of current data collection efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USDA has produced an information technology plan and installed a system that is managing the data being collected under the program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the USDA Office of Information Resources Management, working with the USDA components involved in the program, to develop and implement an information technology strategy, plan, and implementation schedule that details how USDA will manage, process, and disseminate all pesticide data being compiled under the Pesticide Data Program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AMS has refined its commodity sampling methodology so that statistically reliable results will be possible that are representative for the pesticide findings in the wholesale markets for the states where the program is administered.

    Recommendation: To help establish a better foundation for the success of USDA Coordinated Pesticide Data Program, the Secretary of Agriculture, after completing the current data collection effort with the existing 6 states, 7 commodities, and 11 pesticides, should not proceed with further residue data collection activities until the Administrator, AMS, reaches agreement with EPA and FDA on how the Pesticide Data Program can most efficiently provide statistically reliable data, meet users' needs, and support interagency pesticide responsibilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In June 1992, a Memorandum of Understanding between USDA, EPA, and FDA documented interagency support for the Pesticide Data Program and established an Interagency Steering Committee to develop annual plans for the program.

    Recommendation: To help establish a better function for the success of the USDA Coordinated Pesticide Data Program, the Secretary of Agriculture, after completing the current data collection effort with the existing 6 states, 7 commodities, and 11 pesticides, should not proceed with further residue data collection activities until the Administrator, AMS, documents those agreements with EPA and FDA.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jun 9, 2016

May 26, 2016

May 19, 2016

Apr 14, 2016

Jan 14, 2016

Jan 8, 2016

Jul 9, 2015

Jun 18, 2015

May 26, 2015

May 20, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here