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Federal regulation of pesticide use helps protect environment, public health

Chances are that most of our readers, at some point, have thought about whether it is worth their hard-earned money to spend more on organic food as opposed to the chemically treated stuff. For those who can afford it, organic produce can arguably be beneficial, but many people, of course, cannot.

Whatever your opinion on the organic food debate, federal laws and regulations do set minimum standards in terms of pesticides used in animal-derived products, as well as germicidal preparations used on inanimate objects, rodenticides and insecticides. These laws and regulations are enforced by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The EPA regulates the use of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), while the FDA regulates them under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Modifications of these laws have been made by the Food Quality Protection Act and the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act.

FIFRA requires, among other things, that all pesticides sold or distributed in the United States be registered based on evaluation of scientific data and risk and benefit assessment. Registration of pesticides is a multifaceted process that includes evaluating the human health and environmental risk assessment, peer review, and regulatory decision-making. The EPA can authorize limited use of unregistered pesticides and pesticides which are registered for other uses, and the agency oversees pesticide labeling.

In some cases, the EPA grants conditional approval of pesticides pending further research regarding chemical safety. In our next post, we’ll look at a current dispute with the EPA over this issue.


EPA, “About Pesticide Registration,” Accessed March 10, 2016.

FDA, “Is FDA responsible for regulating pesticides that are used in animal products?,” Accessed March 10, 2016.

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