Food Safety and Quality:

Five Countries' Efforts to Meet U.S. Requirements on Imported Produce

RCED-90-55: Published: Mar 22, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) government and private-sector pesticide controls over exported fresh produce in five countries; (2) federal agencies' efforts to help foreign countries improve their pesticide registration and practices; and (3) U.S., state, and private industry responsibilities in monitoring imported produce.

GAO found that: (1) the foreign governments' pesticide registration practices affected the presence and composition of pesticide residues on their exported produce; (2) the foreign governments allowed the use of 110 registered pesticides that did not have Environmental Protection Agency-established tolerance levels; (3) like the United States, the foreign governments did not design their food safety and quality systems to meet other countries' import requirements, but rather to address domestic needs and issues; (4) exporting countries faced many varied pesticide requirements; (5) some countries' export sectors tried to use management practices that considered U.S. pesticide residue requirements; (6) the Uruguay Round of Negotiations on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade included proposals to harmonize food safety and sanitary requirements as a way to reduce their use as technical trade barriers; and (7) several U.S. agencies and international organizations provided assistance related to pesticide use to developing countries.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The intent of the recommendation was to facilitate congressional debate on some of these issues. Much debate on the issues did take place during consideration of the 1990 farm bill. However, specific actions were not intended or recommended. Therefore, the recommendation should be closed at this time.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider establishing tolerances for additional crops and increasing the flow of information, which could help: (1) increase U.S. consumers' confidence about the safety and quality of imported foods; (2) provide U.S. consumers with a larger variety of foods during a greater part of the year; and (3) developing countries, many of which are debtor nations, increase their exports to the United States.


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