A Comparative Study of Industrialized Nations' Regulatory Systems

PEMD-93-17: Published: Jul 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations' pesticide regulatory standards and regulations with those of the United States, focusing on the: (1) types of experimental test data required to register food-use pesticides; (2) organizational structures, risk assessment, and risk management procedures used to evaluate pesticides; and (3) enforcement of pesticide standards.

GAO found that: (1) the OECD nations' pesticide standards and regulations agree with U.S. requirements for assessing human health effects of food-use pesticides, but specific test methodologies vary; (2) there is less agreement among OECD nations and the United States on the required tests to measure the impact of pesticides on the environment and wildlife; (3) the European Economic Community (EEC) is revising its test requirements to bring them into greater harmony with U.S. pesticide registration standards; (4) several OECD nations are willing to accept test data generated according to OECD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other international organization guidelines; (5) industry officials believe that OECD has achieved harmonization of data requirements, but requirements for data presentation differ; (6) the OECD nations' technical resources and organizational structures for evaluating test data vary widely and do not correlate with the quantity of pesticides used; (7) the United States and OECD nations use different evaluation procedures for health risk assessments; (8) many OECD nations review product efficacy data to reduce the quantity of pesticides used, whereas the United States relies on market forces to minimize pesticide use; (9) many OECD nations have initiated pesticide reregistration programs; (10) OECD nations' pesticide monitoring tends to focus on imported-food testing, with less emphasis given to exported food and domestically grown and consumed foods; and (11) many OECD nations will accept other residue standards if no national standard exists.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA continues to examine other countries' regulatory decisions on individual pesticides as part of its own pesticide registration and reregistration regulatory reviews. In addition, EPA continues to work through existing international organizations, including OECD and the U.N.-sponsored Codex Commission, to resolve differences that may exist in countries' pesticide regulatory approaches. The agency, however, has no plan to accept other countries' registration decisions as a substitute for conducting its own formal pesticide registration review.

    Matter: Several fundamental differences exist in the pesticide regulatory systems of OECD nations. Although at this time these disparities are too great to warrant taking what may be the final step in broader pesticide harmonization--recognition and acceptance of other nations' registration decisions--further work should be conducted to clarify these differences. Congress may wish to encourage EPA to expand its present efforts to include a more in-depth review of these differences in order to determine what resolutions are possible.


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