EUROPE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds itself at the forefront of a pivotal moment in pesticide regulation, as stakeholders await the implementation of a proposed strategy aimed at better screening agricultural chemicals for potential harm to the human endocrine system.
The strategy, designed to expedite assessments and enhance public health protection under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), has attracted attention from industry players, including Bayer, requesting an extension to the data submission deadline during the recently concluded comment period.
The EPA’s strategic plan comes in response to staffing and support challenges faced by the endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). The program, established in 1996, evaluates how pesticides and chemicals may affect estrogen, androgen, and thyroid systems.
The EPA’s proposed strategy outlines a roadmap to revitalize the EDSP, addressing historical shortcomings and leveraging existing data to streamline decision-making processes.
One of the key aspects of the strategy is the use of FIFRA data collection authorities to obtain essential data for both FIFRA and EDSP decisions on pesticides’ impact on human estrogen, androgen, and thyroid systems.
With approximately 400 conventional pesticide active ingredients prioritized, the EPA aims to expedite decisions by utilizing existing data whenever possible, minimizing redundant animal testing and accelerating the agency’s ability to make informed choices.
The EPA’s strategic plan also includes seeking scientific peer review in 2025 to assess advancements in thyroid assessments, given the evolving nature of human endocrine system science.
Additionally, the agency has released a scientific paper addressing the types of existing data that can inform endocrine findings under FIFRA and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).
While the EPA has made final EDSP decisions for 86 chemicals and communicated outcomes for 52 prioritized chemicals, the agency is now focusing on high-priority pesticides, requiring additional endocrine data.
A recent public comment period which closed on December 26, has seen requests for an extension from stakeholders like Bayer.
In the spring of 2024, the EPA plans to issue FIFRA human health data requests for high-priority pesticides. To this end, the organization is seeking available data for a second group of 126 conventional pesticides.