Legal filing claims current review process neglects real-world impacts of whole pesticide formulations
WASHINGTON, DC— Today Center for Food Safety filed a formal legal rulemaking petition calling for a much-needed overhaul of how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pesticides. The groundbreaking petition demands EPA require pesticide companies to provide safety data on all of a pesticide formulation. Remarkably, current regulations only require toxicity data on a pesticide’s “active” ingredient, in isolation, despite the fact that many studies have shown that other ingredients in pesticides, and their combinations, can cause significant health and environmental harms. Yet the agency neglects the toxicology of other ingredients and potential combined effects of the entire formulation.
“EPA’s job is to ensure pesticides are safe for children, families, and the environment, but numerous pesticides have other ingredients or combined effects that are causing significant risks and harm,” said Amy van Saun, attorney with Center for Food Safety. “EPA’s outdated and insufficient safety assessment endangers the public welfare and must be brought into the 21st century.”
The legal petition provides both a legal blueprint for EPA’s required changes and impetus for the agency to act. The legal filing calls on EPA to make specific revisions to its existing pesticide regulations to require whole formula testing, and to require toxicological data on chronic effects of inert and adjuvant ingredients in pesticide products. The petition also demands EPA to consider potential effects to endangered and threatened species based on whole pesticide formulations, instead of only the active ingredients.
A growing body of research indicates that a pesticide’s active ingredients in combination with its other ingredients—what the EPA calls inert and adjuvant ingredients—can increase pesticide toxicity, ecotoxicity, and exposure, both independently and through their synergistic effects. Last month, EPA’s own Office of the Inspector General announced the same, calling on the agency to improve its oversight of pesticides by requiring and assessing information on chemical mixtures and potential synergistic effects. According to the report, such data on interactions amongst pesticide ingredients is important “because the data allows the EPA a greater ability to assess human health and environmental risks combined with real-world pesticide use.”
This is not the first time EPA’s registration review process has come under public scrutiny. Last year, another public interest group petitioned EPA to define synergistic effects in its regulations and to acknowledge the agency’s authority to review data on such effects.