Pesticide Reregistration May Not Be Completed Until 2006
RCED-93-94: Published: May 21, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1993.
- Full Report:
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) reassessment and reregistration of older pesticide products under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), focusing on: (1) EPA progress in meeting the act's deadlines; and (2) factors that have affected program completion.
GAO found that: (1) EPA has only reregistered 31 pesticide products, but it has reassessed 2,400 products, most of which are on its highest-priority list; (2) EPA has only reviewed about 60 percent of the studies on the pesticides on its highest-priority list; (3) EPA estimates it will complete reregistration for all pesticides by 2003 or 2006, depending on funding; (4) the factors delaying reregistration beyond 1998 include the length and complexity of the reregistration process, inadequate program resources, and insufficient data to permit full reassessment of the pesticides; (5) EPA has substituted laboratory toxicity tests for field tests to reduce the length and complexity of the reregistration process; (6) EPA is studying the reasons for the high rejection rate for unacceptable pesticide studies, which it expects to complete by July 1993, but it may not be able to reduce the rejection rate to the anticipated 10-percent level; (7) EPA did not discover until 1990 that more than one-half of its highest-priority list studies lacked a substantial amount of required information, and estimated that additional studies would take 2 to 4 years to complete; and (8) EPA has not met its projected schedules for reassessing its highest-priority list pesticides because of incomplete information.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: Congress amended FIFRA (Public Law 104-170, enacted August 3, 1996) to require the Administrator, EPA, to establish and publish annually in the Federal Register performance measures and goals for reregistration. The measures and goals would include the future schedule for reregistrations, including a projection of those specific chemical cases for which reregistration eligibility decisions will be issued by year on a 2-year rolling schedule. GAO believes that such a schedule would highlight whether EPA is focusing its efforts on list A pesticides, or substituting lower-risk list B, C, or D pesticides. This information should help Congress assess whether EPA is appropriately prioritizing its reregistration efforts and whether it is meeting its goals for completing the program.
Matter: In view of the pace at which EPA is currently reassessing the risks of the highest-priority pesticides and the work that lies ahead to accomplish this objective, Congress may wish to consider amending FIFRA to require that, except in unusual circumstances, EPA focus its efforts on completing reregistration of the highest-priority, food-use pesticides on list A before it proceeds with reregistration of the lower-priority pesticides.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Not Implemented
Comments: The agency does not plan any changes, including reregistration timetables, for the list A food-use pesticides and believes that they will all be reregistered by 2000, which is 3 years after the congressionally mandated deadline for all pesticides, not just the list A pesticides. Congress needs the information to monitor EPA's progress.
Recommendation: To assist Congress in its consideration of requiring EPA to focus its efforts on reregistering the highest-priority pesticides first and the lower-priority pesticides thereafter, the Administrator, EPA, should prepare and submit to Congress an estimate of the time EPA needs to complete reregistration of all the list-A, food-use pesticides. In preparing this estimate, the Administrator should include the additional review costs and delays that may result from the high percentage of studies the agency has rejected and may expect to reject over the remaining years of the program.
Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency