WASHINGTON (FNS) -- An administration proposal to reform the nation's pesticide laws by ensuring extra protection for children and setting strict deadlines for getting dangerous pesticides off the market has drawn some negative reactions from segments of the food industry.
Steve Ziller, vice president of scientific and technical affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, said the proposal has a number of "fatal flaws."
"It fails to establish a nationally uniform system of food safety regulation," he said.
Karen Brown, vice president of communications for the Food Marketing Institute here, agrees that the bill needs to include national uniformity. Without it, states would have authority to set their own laws, which would result in a "patchwork" of different regulations nationwide. She said she also fears that the bill could put supermarkets in the middle of enforcement efforts.
"They could set supermarkets up in a situation where we could be the centerpiece for the enforcement process. [The bill] allows the potential for citizens to bring suit against anybody," she said in an interview with SN. Juanita Duggan, senior vice president of government affairs at the National Food Processors Association, said the plan "is not science-based and falls far short of what is needed to reform the nation's regulation of pesticides."
She added that it would "establish an unworkable dual tolerance system for pesticides and make pesticide law so rigid that it could not keep pace with modern science, while doing nothing to improve food safety."
The administration's plan, announced at a Capitol Hill press conference, comes after a year of collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. The reform proposals would require amendments to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It would require one standard for determining how much of a pesticide is safe, replacing a set of different standards for raw and processed foods.
The plan would recognize that infants and children may receive greater exposure to pesticide residues because they consume more food for their size than adults, and so the plan would give them more protection.
All existing tolerance levels would be reviewed and would be required to be updated to meet the new standards within seven years of enactment of the bill. Also, FDA enforcement power over pesticide residues would be expanded to permit it to recall and embargo foods and to levy civil penalties.