PROCESSORS BACK PESTICIDE RULE REFORM

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The National Food Processors Association here has strongly endorsed a bill that would reform the regulatory process used to determine safe pesticide levels in food.The bill, dubbed the Food Quality Protection Act of 1995, is sponsored by Bill Emerson, R-Mo., chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Nutrition and Foreign Agriculture. It would allow

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The National Food Processors Association here has strongly endorsed a bill that would reform the regulatory process used to determine safe pesticide levels in food.

The bill, dubbed the Food Quality Protection Act of 1995, is sponsored by Bill Emerson, R-Mo., chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Nutrition and Foreign Agriculture. It would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to minimize the loss of valuable minor use pesticides by scientifically determining what constitutes a "safe" level of pesticides in food. It would also require EPA to base its risk assessments on actual pesticide use and residue data.

The current law, known as the Delaney Clause, is 40 years old. It permits no amount of possibly carcinogenic additives in food, no matter how small the concentration or how minimal the risk.

In a hearing before the subcommittee this month, Juanita Duggan, NFPA executive vice president for government affairs, said the new measure would streamline the pesticide cancellation and suspension processes, establish a consistent negligible risk standard for pesticide tolerances for raw and processed food, assure appropriate consideration of pesticide benefits and provide national uniformity for tolerances meeting current safety standards.

Duggan also noted that the bill's provision to ensure that pesticide tolerances would safeguard the health of infants and children was especially important and would facilitate the registration of minor use pesticides.

Lynn Goldman, EPA assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, testified that the administration believes the bill doesn't go far enough to achieve needed reforms and could have "perverse" consequences. She also said the administration would oppose the bill without significant changes to almost every provision.

Emerson, however, remained convinced that his bill was the proper route to take in updating the Delaney Clause. "With all the advances in science that have been made since pesticide regulations were first imposed in the 1950s, we would be foolish not to update federal law to match scientific development," he said. "Using the most up-to-date data, we can assure Americans that the government is providing the latest in food quality protection."