An analysis of regulatory decisions on food-use pesticides under the Food Quality and Protection Act
Newcomb, Elisabeth Jo
Cropper, Maureen L
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To ensure the safety of older pesticides used in the United States, the EPA required the reregistration of pesticide uses which were first introduced before 1984. Using a dataset of reregistration outcomes for 2722 pesticide uses applied to food crops, I analyze the extent to which these decisions were determined by chronic health risks, pesticide expenditures, and other factors. I find that the dietary health risks associated with pesticides are had greater influence on actions to reduce dietary and occupational exposures than on pesticide cancellations. High population dietary risks are associated with higher rates of pesticide cancellations, though these results are insignificant. There is evidence that the EPA was more responsive to child and infant dietary risks: values above the EPA's threshold of concern were more than 10% more likely to be cancelled than those that were not (significant at the 10% level). The effects of cancer risks on EPA actions are more ambiguous, though this may be due to data limitations. The less safe pesticides are for handlers, the more often they are cancelled, but pesticide safety has a more significant correlation with reentry intervals. A one percent decrease in the safety of a pesticide to handlers predicts a reduction in reentry interval of 1.6 days (significant at the 5% level). Expenditures on individual pesticides have a strong relationship with pesticide reregistration, with an additional half million dollars in expenditures predicting a 2% increase in the probability of reregistration (significant at the 1% level). Expenditures are not so correlated with reentry intervals or changes in pesticide tolerances. After accounting for dietary risk and pesticide expenditures, Monsanto and Dow were most likely to have uses reregistered. Though there was some concern that small crops with low pesticide expenditures would suffer extra cancellations, small crop uses were no more likely to be cancelled than large crop uses. Mentions of individual pesticides in the media had no apparent relationship with the outcome of reregistration decisions.