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Laws & Regulations

Summary of the Food Quality Protection Act

Public Law 104-170 (1996)

The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) was passed unanimously by Congress and then signed into law by President Clinton on August 3, 1996. The FQPA amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and thus fundamentally changed EPA’s regulation of pesticides.

With regard to tolerances, the FQPA requires that EPA:

  • make a safety finding when setting tolerances, i.e., that the pesticide can be used with “a reasonable certainty of no harm;”
  • use this new safety standard to reassess, over a 10-year period, all pesticide tolerances that were in place when the FQPA was signed;
  • consider the special susceptibility of children to pesticides by using an additional tenfold (10X) safety factor when setting and reassessing tolerances unless adequate data are available to support a different factor;
  • consider aggregate risk from exposure to a pesticide from multiple sources (food, water, residential and other non-occupational sources) when assessing tolerances; and
  • consider cumulative exposure to pesticides that have common mechanisms of toxicity.

To implement these FQPA requirements, EPA needed to develop methodologies to perform more refined pesticide risk assessments, to better reflect real-world situations. Thus, in a short timeframe, EPA had to develop a variety of new science policies, which included new guidelines on: 

  • Use of the 10X safety factor.
  • Drinking water exposure.
  • Residential exposure.
  • Aggregate exposure and risk assessment.
  • Cumulative risk assessment for pesticides with a common mechanism of toxicity.  

Using these newly-developed methodologies, EPA completed the reassessment of the 9,721 pesticide tolerances during the 10-year timeframe, as required. As a result, EPA revoked or modified almost 4,000 tolerances.

The FQPA also required EPA to:

  • Expedite approval of pesticides meeting the FQPA definition of reduced risk.
  • Give special consideration to minor uses of pesticides (i.e., uses for which pesticide product sales produce small revenues and thus, the registrant might decide to not generate the data needed to support the minor use).
  • Provide a list of pests of significant public health importance (issued in 2002).
  • Expedite the review of applications to register antimicrobial pesticide products.
  • Screen pesticides for disruption to the endocrine system.
  • Significantly, FQPA requires the periodic review cycle for pesticide registrations. Changes in science and pesticide practices occur over time, and these periodic review cycles make sure that as changes occur, pesticide products can continue to be used safely. The Registration Review Program began in 2006 with the goal of reviewing each pesticide’s registration every 15 years to make sure that the pesticide still meets the FIFRA standards for registration.

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