CURRENT I S S U E S
ISSUE BRIEF NUMBER IB83095
Environment and Natural R e s o u r c e s Policy Division
T H E . L I B R A R Y OF CONGBESS
CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
MAJOR ISSUES SYSTEM
D A T E ORIGINATED 06/01/83
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CALL 287-5700
Ever since the Federal Insecticide, F u n g i c i d e , and Rodenticide Act
completely rewritten i n 1 9 7 2
implementation h a v e required frequent a n d continuing congressional a t t e n t i o n .
T o ensure c l o s e oversight and a sense of accountability,
Congress has been
reluctant to authorize the Act for more than o n e or two y e a r s , and i t has
enacted significant "mid-course corrections" twice -- i n 1 9 7 5
and 1976 (P.L. 95-396).
T h e 9 7 t h Congress again considered reauthorizations
(which expired a t the ene of FY8l), a l o n g With a series of further a m e n d m e n t s
correcting problems i n the basic Act.
T h e three a r e a s of most
(1) the handling of data for registration of pesticides; (2) public a c c e s s t o
health and environmental d a t a ; and ( 3 ) t h e extent to which
require a d e i t i o n a l data for registrations. S i n c e the 9 7 t h Congress f a i l e d to
e n a c t the r e a u t h o r i z a t i o n , t h e 98th Congress had to a d d r e s s these and o t h e r
issues. H o w e v e r , only a s i n g l e one-year reauthorization was passed
the first s e s s i o n , and Congress must again reconsider if major
amendments a r e warranted.
BACKGROUND AND POLICY ANALYSIS
Pesticides a r e chemicals used to control many k i n d s o f pests: insects that
attack c r o p s , destroy m a t e r i a l s , and s e r v e a s disease vectors; weeds; f u n g i
and other disease-causing o r g a n i s m s ; n e m a t o d e s ; and others.
They have become
components of agricultural production and of health protection.
Against their b e n e f i t s , certain hazards must be weighed.
P e s t i c i d e s may
highly t o x i c , some a r e persistent in the e n v i r o n m e n t , and many pose r i s k s to
During World War 1 1 , s y n t h e t i c organic pesticides were developed for u s e
in the War effort. After the W a r , the pesticide industry expanded rapidly.
In 1 9 4 7 , C o n g r e s s enacted t h e Federal Insecticide, F u n g i c i d e , and R o d e n t i c i d e
Act (FIFRA) to protect f a r m e r s from ineffective and d a n g e r o u s pesticides.
accomplished this through registration of labels that were required o n a l l
T h e regulatory authority to control pesticides u s e comes through
the requirement that before a pesticide c a n be m a r k e t e d , i t must be granted a
" r e g i s t r a t i o n " , a decision based on a determination of what u s e s a r e s a f e and
any necessary use restrictions.
Over the next two d e c a d e s , concern grew a b o u t hazards to health and
environment from pesticides.
I n r e s p o n s e , Congress enacted the F e d e r a l
Environmental P e s t i c i d e Control Act in 1 9 7 2 (P.L. 92-516).
which rewrote F I F R A , provided for direct controls on t h e u s e of pesticides,
f o r classification of selected pesticides into a restricted u s e c a t e g o r y , f o r
registration of manufacturing p l a n t s , and f o r a n a t i o n a l monitoring program
f o r pesticide residues.
It a l s o added environmental effects t o the r i s k s t o
be weighed i n t h e pesticide registration process.
has had difficulty
From the f i r s t , the Environmental Protection Agency
with its pesticiCes regulation program
the 1 9 7 2
amendments. T h e Agency has frequently found itself b e i n 9 criticized both
proponents for greater regulation of pesticide use and by those urging l e s s
government interference in the pesticide field. G e n e r a l l y , t h o s e who benefit
from the sale or use of pesticides charged the Agency With
restricting pesticides and thereby adversely
Others charged the Agency with not being r e s t r i c t i v e
enough and thereby allowing human beings and the environment t o be exposed t o
potentially hazardous chemicals.
Issues of widespread
concern have been
Agency r e s o u r c e s , deadlines, data v a l i d i t y , data c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , and hazard
E P A 1 s difficulties in carrying
out the provisions of FIF-RA and t h e
controversies inherent in the task of balancing
regulating pesticide uses have led t h e FIFRA legislati,ve committees to l i m i t
T h e committees thus a r e
authorizations for t h e Act to one or two years.
assured of contznuing oversight and increased sensitivity of
T h u s , virtually
every year t h e most
immediate pesticide issue
reauthorization cf FIFRA.
In the reauthorization p r o c e s s , a number of other
i s s u e s recur:
Implementation Problems. Example:
The 1 9 7 2 amendments
required EPA t o reregister some 5 0 , 0 0 0 pesticide u s e s , a
workload that proved impossible in the 4 y e a r s allowed.
deadline was f i r s t extended i n 1 9 7 5 , and then generic
registration was established i n 1978. Additional flexibility
may b e needed.
Efforts to increase acceptability of
EPA decisions led Congress i n 1 9 7 5 to require EPA to consult with
USDA on decisions.
Congress later included provisions for
CongreSSiOnal vetoes of EPA regulations: amendments providing
congressional vetoes were enacted i n 1980. Another proposal
h a s been for establishment of a scientific forum for resolution
of controversial decisions.
EPA restricted t h e use
of m i r e x , a pesticide used to k i l l the imported f i r e ant.
There have been unsuccessful legislative efforts to r e v e r s e
A similar controversy surrounds the d o m e s t i c
use of the herbicide 2 , 4 , 5 - T , which i s restricted because of
possible health dangers
( 2 , 4 , 5 - T was a component of Agent Orange, used ia V i e t n a m ,
and a l l e g a t i o n s of health damages to veterans have a l s o
led to congressional concern).
95-396) CElminated 6 y e a r s of
The F e d e r a l P e s t i c i d e Act Of 1 9 7 8 (P.L.
efforts to overcome implementation obstacles and other problems a r i s i n g from
t h e 1 9 7 2 amendments to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide a n d Rodenticide
B r i e f l y , the 1 9 7 8 Pesticide Act
classification processes by providing for registration on t h e basis of t h e
generic chemical rather than end-product, allowing conditional r e g i s t r a t i o n ,
developing special limited data requirements for regiscering minor
pesticides, providing the developer of a pesticide with a 10-year exclusive
u s e of data p e r i o d , and allowing currently approved pesticides
classifieC f o r either general or restricted use without waiting
finalization of the re-registration process.
In addition,. S t a t e s were giver.
primary enforcement responsibilities for the Act after meecing
for adequate pesticide use l a w s , r e g u l a t i o n s , and enforcement procedures.
improve E P A ' s risk a s s e s s m e n t analysis that leads t o decisions by
A d m i n i s t r a t o r , the n e w Act required the Agency to obtain operating g u i d e l i n e s
from i t s scientific adv-isory p a n e l , whose
existence was extended u n t i l
September 1981. C o m m e n t s , e v a l u a t i o n s , and recommendations of the panel a r e
published in the Federal Register.
The 1 9 7 8 Pesticide Act required the Agency, in coordination with U S D A , to
conduct research i n t o integrated pest management, defined a s the balanced use
of such c u l t u r a l , biological, and chemical measures a s a r e most a p p r o p r i a t e
to a particular situation.
EPA's monitoring activities a r e to i n c l u d e
developing procedures f o r monitoring a i r , s o i l , w a t e r , m a n , p l a n t s , and
a n i m a l s f o r incidental pesticide exposure and quantifying t h i s exposure a s
well a s identifying i t s source and relationship to human and environmental
In the 96th C o n g r e s s , legislation on pesticides primarily
extending authorizations. Action on this legislacion a l s o gave t h e H o u s e and
Senate Committees o n Agriculture t h e opportunity to o v e r s e e EFA's pesticide
programs and decisions.
During the 1 s t session, legislation to a u t h o r i z e
FIFRA programs for F Y 8 0 died when t h e House and Senate were unable to reach
conference agreement o n a congressional veto provision.
In t h e second
session, Congress passed H.R. 7 0 1 8 , which was signed a s P.L. 96-539 o n Dec.
1 7 , 1980.
It authorized $77.5 million for F Y 8 1 a n d , r e t r o s p e c t i v e l y , $72.16
million f o r FY80.
It added some procedural requirements for scientific
review of decisions to suspend uses of pesticides and
r e v i e w of
scientific studies conducted under authority of FIFRA.
(after i n i t i a l
rejection of H.R. 7 0 1 8 on the floor), i t included a c o n g r e s s i o n a l v e t o
9 7 T H CONGRESS
T h e 9 7 t h Congress could not a g r e e on a bill reauthorizing FIFRA.
continues, however, under %he FY8'3 appropriations bill (P.L. 97-272).
Controversial issues behind the law's implementation
surfaced a n d were
unable to be resolved legislatively.
T h e stalemate c a m e about when
House-passed bill (H.R. 5 2 0 3 ) , though reported by
t h e Senate Agriculture
Committee with a m e n d m e n t s , was not brought to the Senate f l o o r for a vote.
T h e three major i s s u e s behind this bill were:
(1) exclusive use of registration data (H.R. 5203
granted registrants "exclusive use" of their data for
fifteen years) ;
(2) public a c c e s s to pesticides registration health
and safety data (attempts were made to require
a reading room concept f o r public review of
d a t a , but H.R. 5203, a s passed, only required EPA to
expeditiously implement a public a c c e s s system
according to existing provisions of t h e 1 9 7 8
FIFRA); a n d
(3) State requirements for registration
data beyond that required by the Federal s t a t u t e
(attempts to restrict States' ability t o r e q u i r e
additional data failed) .
(For a full description of these issues and t h e
5203 in t h e ' 9 7 t h C o n g r e s s , see archived I B 7 7 0 7 4
Through t h e 97th Congress.)
trail of H.R.
-- An Overview of Issues
In the closing days of
the 97th C o n g r e s s , the House
Department O p e r a t i o n s , R e s e a r c h , and Foreign Agriculture
released a draft
staff report which
continued to fuel t h e controversies
surrounding t h e
implementation of PIFRA.
The major issues examined i n the draft r e p o r t , "Regulatory P r o c e d u r e s and
Public Health Issues i n the E P A t s Office of Pesticide P r o g r a m s u (Opp), were:
(1) Are FIFRA registration requirements being
circumvented through abuse of Emergency
Exemptions and Special Local Need provisions?
(2) Have EPA/OPP'S risk assessment policies -- i n c l u d i n g
both the interpretation of c h r o n i c health test
d a t a and allowable levels of estimated risk -- changed
significantly s i n c e 1 9 8 0 , while avoiding
procedures for peer review and public comment?
(3) Are OPP's current decisions regarding a l l o w a b l e
especially i n light of
possible changes in risk assessment policies -- adequately
protecting human health and the environment?
(4) Is the a m o u n t , q u a l i t y , and management of t h e d a t a
base upon which pesticide decisions a r e made
a d e q u a t e for OPP to make informed decisions? a n d
(5) Has t h e pesticide program received adequate f i n a n c i a l
resources to properly implement the requirements of
9 8 T H CONGRZSS
As one of i t s f i r s t orders of business in the 98th C o n g r e s s , on Feb.
and 23, 1 9 8 3 , the Subcommittee on Department Operation, R e s e a r c h , and F o r e i g n
Agriculture held a hearing on the draft report.
Some c r i t i c s claimed
staff report shows the need f o r major revisions in FIFRA
to a d d r e s s both
current a n 8 more
Nonetheless, on Apr.
2 7 , 1 9 8 3 , Representative B r o w n , chairman of
S u b c o m m i t t e e , introduced H.R.
2 7 8 5 , proposing only
reinstating the Scientific Advisory P a n e l , and reauthorizing FIFRA f o r one
It was explained that a t this time the issues raised by
t h e staff
report would be best dealt with through continuing o v e r s i g h t hearings of
instead of additional
considered the bill on Apr. 2 7 , and it approved H.R. 2785 a f t e r a m e n d i n g it
t o reauthorize FIFRA for 2 years.
On May 3 the full Agriculture
amended the bill to be only a one-year r e a u t h o r i z a t i o n , a n d i t was reported
to the House on May 1 0 ( H - R e p t . 98-104).
1 7 , 1 9 8 3 , the bill was
called up by t h e House under Suspension of Rules and passed by voice vote.
In the S e n a t e , on May 1 1 , Senator H e l m s , chairman of
C o m m i t t e e , introduced the Administration S i l l , S. 1 2 6 3 , which
reauthorization of FIFRA for 2 years (including reactivating
the S c i e n t i f i c
T h e Committee held hearings o n the bill on May 24, 1983.
T h e debate over a two-year a s opposed to a one-year
concern over the magnitude of the FIFRA
implementatio'n problems at EPA.
Supporters of the one-year extension wanc the opportunity to r e v i e w EPA's
progress in overcoming these difficulties a s soon a s possible.
S u p p o r t e r s of
t h e two year e x t e n s i o n , while not necessarily downplaying the s i g n i f i c a n c e of
the p r o b l e m s , a r g u e t h a t during 1 9 8 4 , a Presidential election y e a r , Congress
will not be a b l e t o g i v e FIFRA the kind of thoughtful review i t deserves.
L a t e i n the f i r s t session t h e Senate nonetheless decided to a c c e p t the
House bill with the one-year
On Nov. 4 the bill w a s
Cischarged from the Commitcee by unanimous consent. F i n a l l y , on t h e l a s t day
of the first s e s s i o n , Nov. 1 8 , E . R . 2785 passed the Senate w ~ t h o u t amendment
by voice vote.
It was signed into law Dec. 2 , 1 9 8 3 (P.L. 98-201).
A further complication in considering FIFRA arises from a n Apr. 1 9 , 1 9 8 3 ,
decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern D i s t r i c t of Missouri that
held certain provisions of FIFRA unconstitutional
Environmental Protection Agency).
T h e decision referred
to the provisions regarding registrant d a t a sharing and compensation for use
of the data a s well a s public disclosure of
T h e Agency i s
currently considering implications of the ruling for t k e pr-oduct registration
p r o c e s s , . a n d h a s appealed -the decision.
Most recently, an extensive package of FIFRA a m e n d m e n t s was introduced i n
both t h e House and Senate. H.R. 3 8 1 8 (Harkin e t al.) and S. 1 7 7 4
et al.) i s titled t h e FIFRA Reform A c t , " t o better protect t h e environment
and man from t h e hazards of pesticides."
It i s supported b y a coalition of
environmental and farm labor groups.
Hearings on the bill h a v e been held by
the DORFA subcommittee in late 1983.
In the S e n a t e , no action on
t h e bill
has been scheduled.
An i s s u e of increasing congressional concern h a s been t h e pesticide
Ethylene D i b r o m i d e , which has caused cancer in laboratory a n i m a l s tests.
suspended most EDB u s e i n September 1983. No EDB residue levels i n f o o d had
been established a s s a f e by E P A , and in December S t a t e officials i n Florida
issued stop sale o r d e r s for f o o d s which contained a n y detectable l e v e l s of
Other States began to conduct their own a n a l y s e s and pressed
d e t e r m i n e allowable levels. Finally in February and March of 1 9 8 4 , EPA
announced recommended levels a s a guide to State actions.
controversies surrounding the regulatory history
of EDE and
i t s possible
health risks have emerged a s a major pesticide issue for the second
of the 9 8 t h Congress.
(For further i n f o r m a t i o n , see C R S Info Pak Ethylene
D i b r o m i d e , IP0280E.)
In light of the EDB s i t u a t i o n , H.R. 5 4 9 5 (Waxman) h a s been i n t r o d u c e d to
a c h i e v e two broad goals. F i r s t , t h e bill would grant EPA and FDA authority
to more quickly r e v o k e or impose residue tolerances i n certain emergency
S e c o n d , i t would greatly accelerate the development of
and other health d a t a for pesticides which d o not have a complete or reliable
data base which f u l f i l l s all current regulatory requirements. T h e bill only
covers pesticides f o r which there 1 s a food tolerance granted under t3e
Federal F o o d , D r u g , and Cosmetic Act.
Hearings on the bill a r e scheduled fcr
T h e issue of data compensation and z r a d e secrets would be a f f e c t e d by
patent legislation being considered in the Senate:
S. 1 3 0 6 , supported by t h e
National Agricultural Chemicals Association, would
add u p to 7 y e a r s to
T h e problem of Agent Orange and possible
effects suffered by
Vietnam veterans was the subject of several b i l l s , including: H.R. 4 6 2 , H.R.
(For further information see IB83043 -1 9 6 1 , H.R. 2 0 9 , S. 7 8 6 , an'd S. 991.
V e t e r a n s 1 Complaints and S t u d i e s of Health Effects.)
On the domestic use side of the 2 , 4 , 5,-T/dioxin i s s u e , H.R.
2 7 9 9 would
promote forestry employment, c o n ~ r o lvegetation expenditures, and f o s t e r safe
use of herbicides on public forest lands.
issue concerns restrictions on t h e use of
foreign aid f u n d s to f i n a n c e herbicide
restriction a r o s e from concern that marijuana
paraquat might contain residues that could harm users.
H.Res. 1 4 3 , h o w e v e r ,
would direct that the U.S. should attempt to persuade Columbia t o begin
a n eradication program.
. F i n a l l y , the issue of exports of hazardous substances has been reopened by
Congress since President Reagan rescinded President C a r t e r ' s Executive
setting out a Federal regulatory policy f o r dealing with exports of hazardous
s u b s t a n c e s , including the export of pesticides that a r e banned o r restricted
domestically. H.R. 2467 would reestablish a Federal policy o n t h e export of
P.L. 9 8 - 2 0 1 , H.R.
t h e provisions of the F e d e r a l Insecticide,
Rodenticide Act relating L O the s c i e n t i f ~ cadvisory panel and e x t e n d s t h e
authorization for appropriations for such Act.
referred t o CommLtzee on Agriculture.
1 1 , 1983
98-104); passed House May 1 7 , 1 9 8 3 , amended.
Passed S e n a t e Nov.
1 8 , 1963.
Signed i n t o l a w Dec. 2 , 1983.
Defines the conditions for use of phenoxy
herbicides on F e d e r a l lands
managed by the Bureau of Land Management
o r by the United S t a t e s Forest
Introduced Apr. 2 7 , 1 9 8 3 ; referred to more t h a n o n e committee.
Amends t h e Federal Insecticide, F u n g i c i d e , and R o d e n t i c i d e Act t o require
t h e denial of regi'stration of a pesticide Unless there i s submitted certain
data demonstrating that such
unreasonable a d v e r s e effects on the environment.
referred to House Committee on Agriculture.
H.R. 3 2 5 4 (Heftel)
Protects the American public from c o n s u m i n g potentially
residues on imported foodstuffs; to foster prudent and equitable
r e q u i r e m e n t s a n d s t a n d a r e s f o r U.5.
competing with producers in other countries in international and domestic
markets; and to improve the international exchange of scientific information
o n t h e p r o p e r t i e s , s a f e t y , b e n e f i t s , a n d r i s k s o f p e s t i c i d e use.
J u n e 8 , 1983; referred to Committee on Agriculture.
Amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
protect the environment and man from the hazards of pesticides, and for other
I n t r o d u c e d Aug. 4 , 1 9 8 3 ; r e f e r r e d t o C o m m i t t e e o n A g r i c u l t u r e .
the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
A m e n d s s e c t i o n 408 of
authorize emergency actzon with respect to pesticide chemicals which present
an imminent hazard to the public health, to.revise the procedures under
section for changes in tolerances and exemptions for pesticide chemicals, and
for other purposes.
1 2 , 1984; referred
to Committee on
Energy and Commerce.
Amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
the Administrator of the Environmental
to maintain a
biological pesticide testing facility.
I n t r o d u c e d Mar. 1 1 , 1 9 8 3 ; r e f e r r e d t o
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.'
S. 1 2 6 3 ( H e l m s by r e q u e s t )
Amends and excends the Federal Insecticide, F u n g i c i d e , and Rodenticide
A c t , a s a m e n d e d , f o r 2 years.
Introduced May 1 1 , 1 9 8 3 ; referred t o Committee
S. 1 7 7 4 ( P r o x m i r e )
Amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act
protect the environment and man from the hazards of pesticides, and for other
I n t r o d u c e d Aug. 4 , 1 9 8 3 ; r e f e r r e d t o C o m m i t t e e o n A g r i c u l t u r e ,
Nutrition, and Forestry.
Committee on Agriculture.
Department Operations, Research, and Foreign Agriculture.
"EPA Pesticide Regulatory Program Study."
Dec. 1 7 , 1982.
Congress, 2d session.
R E P O R T S AND C O N G R E S S I O N A L D O C U M E N T S
House. Committee on Agriculture.
Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Amendments of 1982.
R e p o r t t o a c c o m p a n y H.R. 5 2 0 3 . K a y 1 7 , 1 9 8 2 .
U.S. G o v t . P r i n t . O f f . , 1 9 8 2 .
At h e a d o f t i t l e :
97th Congress, 2d session.
R e p o r t no. 37-566.
Committee o n Agriculture.
I n s e c t i c i d e , F u n g i c ~ d e ,and Rodenticide Act Extension.
Report t o accompany H.R. 2785.
May 1 1 , 1983.
W a s h i n g t o n , U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1983.
Committee o n A g r i c u l t u r e ,
Nutrition and Forestry.
F e d e r a l Insecticide,
F u n g i c i d e , and Rodenticide Act.
Sept. 2 0 , 1982.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. O f f . , 1982.
At head of title:
97th C o n g r e s s , 2d session.
Report no. 97-551.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
Senate Agriculture Committee held hearings on S. 1263.
House passed H.R.
Passage of the Federal Pesticide C o n t r o l Act
of 1 9 7 8 , P.L. 95-395.
2 7 8 5 , with amendments.
FIPRA r e a u t h o r i z a t i o n , with a m e n d m e n t s , introduced
i n Senate ( S . 1263).
House Committee on Agriculture reported H.R.
House Committee on Agriculture considered and
marked up H.R. 2875.
FIFRA reauthorization, with amenCments, introduced
i n House (H.R. 2785).
7 0 1 8 signed i n t o l a w a s P.L.
Passage of FIFRA r e a u t h o r i z a t i o n s , P.L.
deadlines extended to October 1977.
Passage of the Federal Environmental Pesticide
Control Act of 1 9 7 2 , P.L. 92-516.
ADDiTiONAL R E F E R E N C E SOURCES
Environmental and Energy Study Conference.
bill opponents put o n the b r a k e s , by Laurie Baker.
5 1 5 House Annex 2.
National Academy of Sciences.
Prepared by the
C o m m i t t e e o n Prototype Explicit Analyses for P e s t i c i d e s , National
W a s h i n g t o n , D.C.
Special pesticide registration by t h e Environmental Protection
Agency should be improved.
R e p o r t to the Congress by t h e
Comptroller General of the U n i ~ e d States.