WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The Environmental Protection Agency has set its schedule for reassessing about 9,700 existing pesticide tolerances for both raw and processed food, as required under last year's Food Quality Protection Act.
Under the schedule, the EPA will look first at 228 pesticides, such as organophosphate, carbamate and organochlorine chemicals, that appear to pose the greatest risk to public health, especially to children. This first group, which includes 33% of all pesticide tolerances, must be completely reassessed by August 1999.
Other high-priority pesticides include probable and possible human carcinogens, high-hazard inert ingredients and any pesticides that exceed their reference dose, or the amount thought not to cause adverse effects if consumed daily over a 70-year lifetime.
The next group -- consisting of 93 pesticides that are possible human carcinogens and all remaining older pesticides -- must be completed by August 2002.
The final group -- made up of 148 biological pesticides, inert ingredients and more recently registered pesticides -- must be completed by August 2006.
In all, EPA will look at 9,700 tolerances for about 470 pesticides or high hazard inert ingredients as well as 826 tolerance exemptions for inert ingredients. The review is a requirement of the Food Quality Act, which in 1996 replaced the controversial Delaney Clause.
Implemented in 1958, that clause enforced zero tolerance for pesticides found to cause cancer in processed foods. Passed before technology could trace the smallest pesticide residue, the clause prohibited the EPA from approving tolerances at levels considered safe for consumers.
Under the new law, the EPA is required to set a uniform pesticide tolerance for raw and processed foods, assess special risk factors to children and evaluate whether a pesticide may have estrogenic or other hormone disrupter effects in human. In the meantime, the EPA also plans to revoke more than 1,000 tolerances for pesticides that have been canceled and commodities that are no longer considered significant livestock feed items.