Clinton Administration Proposes Sweeping New Legislation on Pesticides and Food Safety Laws

[EPA/FDA/USDA press release - April 26, 1994]

The Clinton Administration, together with U.S. Senators and Representatives, today unveiled sweeping proposed legislation to reform the nation's pesticide laws, particularly as they pertain to food safety.

The legislation not only strengthens the standards for pesticide residues on food, but also provides the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with additional tools necessary to provide increased protection to the American public and the environment.

The Administration's legislative language proposal was presented today in the Russell Senate Office Building by lawmakers of the Senate and House of Representatives chairing committees with jurisdiction over the nation's pesticide laws and senior Administration officials representing EPA, FDA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The reform proposals will require amendments to both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The Administration's pesticide reform legislation incorporates a number of the recommendations made by a 1993 National Academy of Sciences report by calling for a specific finding that tolerances are safe for infants and children, and adding other safety factors for setting tolerances and documenting more scientific studies to assess children's dietary exposure.

The legislation also includes incentives for the development of new alternative pest management materials, focuses federal programs on the research into those alternatives, and rationalizes the registration process so that farmers have access to new tools which pose fewer risks to human health and the environment.

"We have an urgent need to protect public health by reducing the risks of pesticides," said Carol M. Browner, EPA Administrator, noting that the nation's use of pesticides has doubled in the past 30 years. "Today we have a sound, realistic proposal for ensuring a safe food supply for all Americans and especially our children."

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy said, "With the introduction of this legislative proposal, the Administration is fulfilling its commitment to offer comprehensive reforms to the nation's pesticide laws that further protect the environment and human health while ensuring that farmers will have the pest control tools necessary to produce an abundant and affordable food supply."

"This legislative package will ensure a health-based standard for all pesticide residues in food," said David A. Kessler of FDA.

The proposed legislation recognizes that infants and children may receive greater exposure to pesticide residues because they consume more food for their size than adults. In order to assure food safety, the three agencies will be required to develop more comprehensive surveys of food consumed by children of all ages, races and geographic areas before allowable residue levels or tolerances are established on food.

The Administration's bill also will provide for expedited cancellation procedures, which currently can take many years to complete before a pesticide is removed from the market place.