Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Food Quality Protection Act, which mandates a health-based standard for pesticides used in foods, provides special protections for infants and children, streamlines the approval of pesticides, and establishes incentives for the creation of safer crop protection.
The FQPA amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide (FIFRA), thus changing the EPA’s regulation of pesticides.
FQPA requires that the EPA determine that a pesticide can be used with a “reasonable certainty of no harm” and even consider the special susceptibility of children to pesticides by using an additional tenfold (10X) safety factor when setting and reassessing tolerances.
The EPA must also consider cumulative exposure to pesticides that have common mechanisms of toxicity – that is, if I eat the allowable amount of pesticide X on a strawberry, but also eat apples and corn on the cob that day, have I exceeded the allowable safety standards?
With all these provisions – and more that we haven’t covered here – the government hoped that people would feel good about the safety of their food. And they did for many of the 20 years! It wasn’t until the advent of social media and the rise of emotional based decision making that many Americans questioned the safety of these extremely tested pesticides.
If you are interested in reading more about how pesticides are tested and deemed safe for use, check out the EPA’s summary of FQPA here! Or consider sharing this information on pesticide testing and safety with a friend!