Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: I am Jay Vroom, President of CropLife America. We commend Chairman Jeffords and the entire Committee on Environment and Public Works for providing leadership on this complex issue. I appreciate; the opportunity to testify before you this afternoon on the Persistent Organic Pollutants Implementation Act of 2002 (S. 2118) and the Bush Administration's legislative proposal for implementing the Stockholm Convention on POPs and the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) Protocol on POPs, as well as the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent: Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC).
CropLife America supports the POPs and PIC international environmental agreements. The crop protection industry acknowledges its role and responsibility in protecting human health and the environment in the manufacture, distribution and use of pesticides. Our member companies are committed to the spirit and letter of these agreements, and we welcome the opportunity to make recommendations about their integration into U.S. law. We also recognize the importance of including a process in the legislation to address U.S. decision making on pesticides proposed for future inclusion in the international POPs listing.
CropLife America is the national trade association representing the developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of plant science solutions for agriculture and pest: management in the United States. Our member companies develop, produce, sell and distribute virtually all the crop protection and biotechnology products used by American farmers. Our mission is to foster the interests of the general public and CropLife member companies by promoting innovation and the environmentally sound discovery, manufacture, distribution and use of crop protection and production technologies for safe, high quality, affordable, abundant food, fiber and other crops.
It may seem obvious, but our industry's products provide many benefits to people and the environment. Our products have an enormous impact on the availability of abundant and affordable food and fiber while also protecting people, animals, and our homes and businesses from disease-carrying pests. Pesticides control outbreaks of crop-damaging fungus, insect infestation and weeds to enhance U.S. food and fiber production. Pesticides are also used to combat damaging and health-threatening pests and insects. Pesticides control and eliminate vector borne illness caused by rats, mosquitoes (West Nile virus and other encephalitis) and ticks (lyme disease), among others. They combat cockroaches and mold/mildew in housing, restrooms, cafeterias and elsewhere, reducing known allergens causing asthma and other disease. Other insects and plant pests, such as bees (which can cause anaphylactic reactions), poison ivy, fire ants and spiders, are controlled effectively by pesticides. We are reinforcing the benefits of our industry's products at every opportunity and recently held a 2-day conference to foster better understanding of the enormous benefits of pesticides.
We believe the United States has the strongest and most emulated pesticide regulatory system ire the world. Congress saw the need for a separate statute regulating pesticides in order to provide for extensive health and safety testing when it passed the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in 1947. Through subsequent major revisions to FIFRA in 1972, 1975, 1978 and 1988, Congress has provided for an increasingly comprehensive pesticide regulatory system as the basis for EPA pesticide decisions.
Far example, under FIFRA's strict provisions the process of bringing pesticides to market by securing an EPA registration is complex and demanding, based on strong scientific principles and undertaken according to stringent government review and regulation. EPA requires up to 120 separate scientific safety tests to ensure that a product, when used properly, does not present health or environmental concerns. On average, only one in 20,000 chemicals makes it from the chemist's laboratory to the farmer's field. Pesticide development, testing and EPA approval takes 8 to 10 years and costs manufacturers $75 million to $100 million for each product.
Given Congress' specific and recurrent decisions on pesticide law over the years, we believe FIFRA provides the necessary statutory framework to implement the conventions without adding pesticide provisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act.
CropLife America supports the sovereign right of individual countries to decide which pesticides they will permit to be used domestically and allow to be brought into their country. Importantly, the POPs and PIC Conventions recognize this and include provisions providing for each nation's right to implement the agreements within their domestic regulatory framework. FIFRA, with its protective health and safety provisions, should be the basis for U.S, pesticide decisions under implementing legislation for POPs and PIC. Specifically, our industry urges that workable implementation legislation recognize the existing risk-benefit standards of FIFRA. The United States may become party to other international agreements, and POPs and PIC implementing legislation may serve as a precedent for the future. Health and environmental protections afforded by FIFRA's stringent scientific standards and U.S. law should be upheld when implementing such agreements.
Our industry is concerned that under S. 2118 an international POPs listing would constitute a domestic, FIFRA finding of "unreasonable adverse effect on the environment."' This would trigger U.S. cancellation of a product without full risk assessment, benefits consideration or due process currently provided under FIFRA.
EPA must play an active role in upholding the integrity of the listing criteria and procedures in the POPs and PIC international agreements. We urge that implementing legislation not enable other countries to use these agreements to adversely impact the, availability of U.S. registered pesticide: that meet FIFRA standard's used for agriculture, public health protection and other purposes. The agreements should not become vehicles to impose artificial barriers to trade, impose a competitive disadvantage on U.S. growers or adversely impact public health. 1Ne strongly support FIFRA as the basis for pesticide decisions by the U.S. government since it provides rigorous protection for human health and the environment.
LRTAP POPs Protocol and Stockholm POPs Convention
CropLife America actively supported the inter-governmental negotiations that led to the U.S. signing of both the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants and Stockholm POPs Convention.
Our support of both agreements is based on established policies and procedures in the POPs agreements for:
1. Identifying new POPs chemicals within a transparent, science-based, risk/benefit assessment process. Final determination of the POPs status for a pesticide is based on a consideration of socio-economic benefits and risks.
2. Recognizing the sovereignty of each nation to undertake mitigation requirements for POPs or to "opt-in" or "opt-out" of the international POPs listing based on their domestic risk management conclusions.
3. Contemplating the process for developing national regulatory programs for countries that do not have a regulatory framework in place, while recognizing the sovereignty of existing regulatory programs.
Our industry believes that if a pesticide use is contemplated for international POPS listing, then any alternatives -- if they exist -- synthetic pesticide or otherwise, should be subject to the same risk-benefit analysis and process to ensure that appropriate alternatives exist.
We agree with the findings of the Conventions regarding POPs pesticides, and recognize that beneficial uses still exist, for example in developing countries, as reflected in the specific exemptions in annexes of both agreements.
Companies represented by CropLife International, our industry's global association, have been working with the United Nations. Food and Agriculture Organization on the safe collection and disposal of obsolete crop protection product stocks in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Through partnering and cost-share arrangements with donor agencies, governments and other stakeholders, this effort hats resulted in the disposal of over 3,000 tons of obsolete pesticide stocks, including 800 tons of POPs pesticides. In 2000 alone, 1200 tons of obsolete pesticides were incinerated in Brazil and approximately 180 tons were successfully retrieved from Gambia, Madagascar, Pakistan and Uganda. Our commitment and work on such disposal projects will continue.
CropLife America supports the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent. The PIC Convention is first and foremost an information exchange mechanism to assist decision-making in developing countries. It makes an important contribution to developing countries' ability to make informed judgments in their national interest. Furthermore, PIC affirms the right of each government to make regulatory decisions that take into account the benefits of product use to agriculture and the public good. We are pleased with the balanced distribution of obligations between importing and Exporting countries. The obligations in PIC are consistent with our industry's product stewardship efforts to ensure the safe use of our products.
Our industry has actively supported the voluntary PIC procedure first established in the late 1980's as part of the FAO Code of Conduct, and we participated as a non-governmental organization in the intergovernmental negotiations that led to the current Convention. We look forward to continuing this tradition of cooperation. We do have several recommendations regarding proposed implementing legislation:
1. In order to provide broad input into EPA decision-making, we urge the inclusion of legislative language that directs the Administration to consult with stakeholders and solicit broad stakeholder input. We recommend notice and comment rulemaking as well as an ongoing consultative process.
2. There is no formal mechanism to challenge EPA judgments in applying PIC definitions and criteria to products for which the agency has issued a final regulatory action. We believe any implementation of PIC by the United States should include such a provision, governed under the auspices of FIFRA and the Administrative Procedures Act.
3. Voluntary removal for purely commercial reasons should not by itself constitute a safety risk or reason for PIC listing. For Example, the U.S. market for a particular pesticide may be too small or even non-existent to justify registering the pesticide with EPA. We urge that this provision be explicitly noted in implementation legislation.
Overall Recommendations for POPs and PIC Implementing Legislation
Our industry looks forward to the opportunity to fully support implementing legislation to accompany the POPs and P1C agreements. We are committed to work with thin Committee to ensure that these agreements are fully implemented, without unintended consequences, and offer the following recommendations:
We fully support enactment of POPs implementing legislation (S. 2118) consistent: with POPs and PIC international agreements. In our analysis, the proposed POPS legislation could result in U.S.-registered pesticides being removed from domestic use, which is not consistent with our understanding of what is called for in the Conventions. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Committee on clarification.
We believe that if a pesticide does not meet FIFRA standards and is not eligible for EPA registration, then the U.S. should be authorized to support its inclusion on the international POPs and PIC lists. Health and environmental protections under FIFRA warrant that pesticides meeting FIFRA safety standards for registration in the U.S. should be ineligible for U.S. support for inclusion on the international POPs or PIC list.
We support EPA as the pre-eminent pesticide regulatory agency that recognizes the risks of pesticides and the beneficial role pesticides play in protecting human health and the environment and providing for a safe and abundant food supply. U.S. decisions on POPS and PIC; pesticides should be based on EPA expertise and regulatory responsibility, with input from other federal agencies as appropriate.
Our industry is committed to the improvement and building of regulatory capacity, especially in the developing world. We have been active participants in the DECD and NAFTA international forums to harmonize pesticide registration processes for the past 10 years. Most recently our efforts have been focused on harmonization of U.S. and Canadian pesticide regulation.
This hearing is the first to consider a very complex matter. We have been evaluating both legislative proposals and welcome the opportunity to participate in continuing deliberations. We support strong and workable implementing legislation for the Conventions. We understand that PIC legislation will be added and look forward to working with the Committee in this effort.
The crop protection industry is committed to a transparent, science-based process for implementing the Conventions and we believe that current statutory framework under FIFRA is ample, with appropriate adjustments, to successfully implement U.S. industry's obligations.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share our views with the Committee. We look forward to working with the Chairman and other Senators to ensure that POPs and PIIC are properly implemented to meet the global human health and environmental goals set forth in the three international agreements.