Better Data Can Improve the Usefulness of EPA's Benefit Assessments

RCED-92-32: Published: Dec 31, 1991. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1992.

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Peter F. Guerrero
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) benefit assessments of pesticides used on food, focusing on: (1) EPA use of such assessments during special reviews of already registered pesticides; and (2) the extent to which EPA used adequate data, clarified limitations, and considered alternative pest-control measures.

GAO found that: (1) EPA primarily considers risk assessments in its reviews of already registered pesticides, and uses benefit assessments in a secondary role to help it to decide to cancel or restrict certain pesticide uses; (2) the quality of benefit assessments suffered because of poor, imprecise, or missing data, misleading analyses that do not acknowledge limitations, and incomplete analyses that do not consider promising pest-control alternatives; and (3) EPA could improve its benefits assessments by using more and better data on pesticide usage and comparative product performance, but EPA stated that it was difficult to obtain reliable data.

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