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3.7. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act

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The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is primarily a licensing statute. Most of EPA’s actions under FIFRA have to do with registering, and then modifying or canceling the registration of pesticides. The Food Quality and Protection Act of 1996 amended FIFRA but left the principal requirements for economic analysis unchanged.

When registering a pesticide, EPA is to determine that the pesticide will not have “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” These adverse effects are defined to mean “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide.” If EPA finds that a pesticide already registered has unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, it may cancel the registration or change the classification. In so doing EPA must take into account “the impact of the action…on production and prices of agricultural commodities, retail food prices, and otherwise on the agricultural economy.” Because actions taken under this licensing authority are not considered rulemaking under the terms of Executive Order 12866, RIAs are not prepared for these decisions. Due to FIFRA’s specific language, a risk-benefit analysis is performed, however, and costs are considered.

EPA’s formal rulemaking under FIFRA consists almost exclusively in establishing the data requirements and procedures to be used in the registration process. In establishing these regulations, EPA is to take into account “the difference in concept and usage between various classes of pesticides and differences in environmental risk and the appropriate data for valuating such risk between agricultural and non-agricultural pesticides.” It must also consider “the effect of the regulation on production and prices of agricultural commodities, retail food prices, and otherwise on the agricultural economy…” This language covers most of the costs and benefits associated with pesticide use. Thus, it authorizes EPA to consider most of the benefit-cost and economic impact analyses specified for an RIA when establishing regulations under FIFRA.


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