21 February 2002 19:25 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The White House said Thursday a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program for re-evaluating older pesticides is ineffective in identifying and reducing exposures to high-risk pesticides.
EPA's pesticide re-registration effort was examined under a Bush administration initiative to identify strong or weak performing programs across various federal regulatory agencies. Based on those program assessments, the administration said it would ask Congress to redirect funds from poorly performing programs to higher priority or more effective ones.
The "ineffective" rating for the pesticide re-registration program cited its "old way of doing business" - focusing on the number of actions the agency has taken rather than on the outcomes or effects of those actions, according to an official in EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.
The agency has taken steps to change that process, she said, adding that her office is now focused on outcomes, such as reducing risks posed by pesticides.
Under the re-registration program, EPA reassesses the safety of older pesticides approved before November 1984. The re-registration is to re-evaluate those pesticides in light of advancements that have been made in scientific knowledge.
Although Congress has twice rewritten federal pesticide law "to speed the process" and fees have been imposed on manufacturers to help pay for re-registration, the administration concluded that the program has had "limited success identifying and reducing exposure to the highest risk pesticides."
The EPA official said the pesticide office has redirected its focus to outcomes, such as reviewing pesticides used on foods that are eaten by children, and examining the application of pesticides in terms of acres treated to determine whether farmers are using newer, safer pesticides.
EPA also is expediting the approval process for reduced-risk chemicals in order to encourage the use of safer pesticides, she noted.
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