Options to Achieve a Single Regulatory Standard

RCED-94-57: Published: May 13, 1994. Publicly Released: May 13, 1994.

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GAO reviewed: (1) federal pesticide laws and the administrative policies that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed to implement them; and (2) legislative options for establishing a single standard for regulating the use of pesticides on foods.

GAO found that: (1) because of conflicting pesticide legislation, EPA often applies different standards of risk for carcinogenic pesticides in different situations and considers the benefits of using pesticides in some instances but not in others; (2) EPA allows the use of carcinogenic pesticides on raw foods and certain processed foods when it has determined that the risk of cancer is negligible; (3) EPA policies to reconcile the differences in the pesticide laws have been overruled in court; (4) EPA expects that the court's decision will prove costly for the agricultural and pesticide industries and for EPA regulation resources; (5) modifying EPA administrative policies would not resolve the legal differences in pesticide legislation; and (6) Congress could establish a single standard for carcinogenic pesticides by amending the existing laws.

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